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Choong Sup Lim, "Gil-ssam," 1999-2023,

HyungTeh Do Constructs an Ecosystem of Contemporary Art at Gallery Hyundai

Gallery Hyundai’s owner and CEO, HyungTeh Do, is unwavering in pursuing its longstanding mission of supporting artists in and out of the gallery.

Founded by Park Myung-ja in 1970, Gallery Hyundai is the longest-running contemporary art gallery in Korea. Since opening its doors, it has played a vital role within the Korean art scene, surpassing the typical functions of a commercial gallery. In its first few years, Park launched one of the first art publications in Korea, Hwarang Magazine. It also presented digital media art and participated in international art fairs, which were both unique facets to the region at the time. And after over five decades of supporting Korean artists both at home and abroad, Park established KoRICA (Korean Research Institute of Contemporary Art) to advance research and archives for Korean artists.

Today, Gallery Hyundai’s owner and CEO, HyungTeh Do, is unwavering in pursuing its longstanding mission of supporting artists in and out of the gallery. The gallery remains a space for both modern and contemporary dialogues to flourish, and explores ways to forge, suggest, and develop a mutually constructive path for those in the Korean art scene.

Recently, Do shared with Whitewall how the gallery has expanded its support of artists, including Minjung Kim, Yun-Hee Toh, Moon Kyungwon, and Chung Zuyoung, who all are presenting work at the gallery early this year. 

Portrait of HyungTeh Do

Portrait of HyungTeh Do, courtesy of Gallery Hyundai.

WHITEWALL: One of Gallery Hyundai’s missions is to make lasting contributions to the Korean art scene. Where do you feel the artist fits into that equation?

HYUNGTEH DO: I can state with utmost conviction that Gallery Hyundai has always been for the artist and with the artist, meaning that our question isn’t just about what the artist can do for the gallery, but what the gallery can bring forth for the artist.

For example, we were one of the first Korean galleries to participate in international art fairs since 1987 and have always made a point to highlight our robust local foothold by championing the work of Korean modern and contemporary artists. The majority of our overseas art fair presentations heretofore have been to stage solo booths that foster a concise yet comprehensive environment, showing the totality of the artist’s practice and effectively generating their niche in the larger global art scene.

“I can state with utmost conviction that Gallery Hyundai has always been for the artist and with the artist,” — HyungTeh Do

WW: Other than your commitment to artist representation, another definitive role that you’ve upheld throughout the years is discovering and cultivating the careers of fellow gallerists. How would you describe that?

HD: As with our artists, Gallery Hyundai has been able to evolve and establish its status today as one of Korea’s leading galleries with the unwavering support and engagement of our gallerists. We have gallerists who have been working with us for 20, even 30 years, and know the gallery and our roster of artists through and through, while there have been others who spent a bulk of their formative years with us and ventured onwards to other Korean and international galleries.

With many Korean gallerists making a name for themselves on the global art scene, I’m proud to say that Gallery Hyundai has played the role of an academy for aspiring gallerists who have genuine passion for promoting modern and contemporary Korean artists beyond the region.

Installation view of Choong Sup Lim_ Stroke at Gallery Hyundai, 2023

Installation view of Choong Sup Lim’s “Stroke,” courtesy of the artist and Gallery Hyundai.

Gallery Hyundai Brings Multimedia Artists to the Forefront of the Global Creative Landscape

WW: How does the gallery focus on presenting mixed media work—like videos, digital compositions, or immersive installations—in Seoul’s tech-forward landscape?

HD: Nam June Paik was an essential driving force of Gallery Hyundai’s media art program since the mid-1980s. We worked closely with the artist and still harbor great admiration and respect for his lifetime work and legacy beyond that. My personal experiences with Paik expanded new horizons for Gallery Hyundai to dedicate a significant portion of its program to both media and mixed media art, which was mostly viewed as erratic for a commercial gallery back in the day. 

Today, we continue to work with Korea’s foremost interdisciplinary, multimedia artists including the estate of Park Hyunki, Ayoung Kim, and the artist duo Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho. I daresay these artists have achieved both commercial and institutional success to some extent, but mixed media occupies a territory that is disparate from that of more traditional mediums, which inspires us to constantly navigate ways to make these works more accessible.

Choong Sup Lim,

Choong Sup Lim, “Untitled,” 2008, thread, wood, and acrylic, 109 × 75 × 15 cm.; courtesy of the artist and Gallery Hyundai.

WW: How would you describe how the contemporary art scene in Seoul has changed since the foundation of Gallery Hyundai?

HD: I believe that Korea’s private collectors have played an integral role in forming the bedrock of the Korean art scene. When Gallery Hyundai first opened its doors in 1970, there already existed a discreet yet strong culture of collecting among the nation’s private and corporate collections (notably the Lee Kun-hee collection).

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a surge in the number of private museums in and around Seoul as corporate collections sought ways to give back to the local community, which then encouraged Korea’s public museums to further bolster their programs, cultivating a constructive ecosystem in the art scene that continues to develop today.

And from this, we are beginning to witness the second and third generations of collectors, many of them educated abroad, who have access to further resources as they are fluent in English or any other foreign language.

“I believe that Korea’s private collectors have played an integral role in forming the bedrock of the Korean art scene,” — HyungTeh Do

Choong Sup Lim,

Choong Sup Lim, “Between – Baby Birds First Flight in the Concrete Jungle,” 2014, acrylic, oil, pencil, crayon, U.V.L.S. gel on canvas, 223.5 × 173.5 × 6 cm.; courtesy of the artist and Gallery Hyundai.

WW: Which emerging or young artists are on your radar right now?

HD: A relatively young artist we are focusing on for international promotion is Kim Sung Yoon. While Kim has been a part of the gallery’s roster of artists for a while, thus far we’ve been building a strong foundation for him within the domestic art scene and clientele. Our first international showcase with the artist is Frieze LA in February, for which we are presenting a solo booth of Kim’s most recent floral still lifes.

Other than the fact that Kim is very obviously a skilled painter, his works harken to the 17th-century Dutch masters but at the same time bring the traditional subject of still life into the contemporary day and age by digitally “collecting” images of flowers from different seasons, and “placing” them in ceramic vases (what he fondly refers to as “Google arrangements”) created by his artist colleagues.

At times juxtaposed with (also digitally generated) splashes of paint or cartoonish characters, these hyperrealistic renderings of flora are imbued with an erratic twist that explores the liminal space between reality and artifice, which warrants a closer look from the beholder. 

Installation view of Choong Sup Lim_ Stroke at Gallery Hyundai, 2023

Installation view of Choong Sup Lim’s “Stroke,” courtesy of the artist and Gallery Hyundai.

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