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Kwon Young-Woo (1926-2013)

Celebrated as a groundbreaking artist, Kwon Young-Woo invested his chosen medium of paper with profound emotion. His works explore the relationship between traditional materials and abstract expression and he is considered a pioneer in the development of Dansaekhwa. In his early career, Kwon worked with both ink and paper seeking to create pure harmony between the two. But by the early 1960s he had begun working solely with paper, challenging its traditional definition as a flat ground. Using his fingernails to scratch and tear thin sheets, the artist would then stack and glue the paper in multiple laminated layers, creating dynamic three-dimensional relief sculptures. Kwon also took advantage of the absorbency of the paper by applying ink onto the torn edges of his compositions.

Kwon Young-Woo held major exhibitions at the 1965 Tokyo Biennale and in 1973 at the 12th São Paulo Biennial. A long time resident of France, his first Paris solo exhibition was at Jacques Massol Gallery in 1976. Other exhibitions include International Contemporary Art held in concert with the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and his major retrospective at Ho-Am Art Museum, Seoul in 1990. Kwon received the Artist Award twice from the Korean Minister of Culture for his works Fantasy of the Seashore (1958) and Road to an Island (1959). He was honored as the 1998 Korean Artist of the Year and awarded the Silver Crown Medal of the Order of Cultural Merit (2001). His works are in many important permanent collections including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, and the British Museum in London. Kwon Young-woo died in 2013.