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Kwangsu Oh(1965 ~1974)   
ukjin Kang's activities as an artist had started from the inauguration of 'Nonkol'in 1965. Nonkol was the coterie group that graduates from Hong-lk Univ. Organized in 1965. Its members were Chanseung Chung, InwhanKim.Youngsup Han, Younghee Nam, Taesin Choi and Chulmo Yang. The group was organized through their common spirit that was naturally formed in the sameclass and by running the joint atelier that was a further developed spirituall community.
The name, 'Nonkol'was quoted from the old name of a place around a crema-torium at Hongjae-Dorg. I think that it was possible for the colleagues to work and live together at the joint atelier by their intense will to seek in their sharing ideology, not just by their youthful vigor. At that time I often came together to drink with them. Their discussion was always sincere and active. Through the meeting they usually poured out their burning desire for the arts.
Their discussion was usually proceeded in a calm manner, but sometimes they got impulsive and did not control their temper Under this kind of a spiritual common passion, 'Nonkol' was organized Their inaugural exhibition was held at the press Center in February of 1965. (Nonkol Art) published at that time was a kind of coterie magazine and an inaugural catalogue. Though it is too abstract, the inaugural statement shows their own continuous will to overcome the situation. Its preamble is quoted here. "At the point of getting out of all forms of compromise.
We always define our position as a liberal modeling.
1.We take the consciousness toward freedom participating in a new generationas our formative condition.
2.We take the creative change of an ultimate time as our formative ethic.
3.We seek for our formative morale on the basis of intelligence, not bound by the existing indiscreet emotion."
The six pieces of Kukjin Kang's work submitted to the inaugural exhibition were given the common title. (Work) About his works he gave a comment. "The contradiction of my human image, strong lines, a heated background and the passionate emotions coming from the innumerable signal forms that exploded through a negative world are to be expressed and formed on my canvas 'These words appear a little crude, but I think it was the expression that' he hit the point as the comment on his own works. Because a canvas gave the impression that itwas sustained by the structural power exploded from strong lines and its symbolic inclination grew larger. His works at the second exhibition in 1966maintained the same trend as the works at the inaugural exhibition. But the more simplified linear structure and the soft color tone were added to them.
1973 [The interrelation between forms] Ropes, Fabrics
I remember that the (Nonkol) exhibition has not been held since the End exhibi-tion. I think it was because the members had scattered apart after their graduation.
But their activity was succeeded to the Coalition Exhibition of Young Artists in1967 and some of the Nonkol members took the initiatives in the newly founding Sinjon coterie. They were Kukjin Kang, Chanseung Chung and Inwhan Kim.
Besides these three members. Duksoo Yang, Kangja Chung and Sunhee Sim joined later. The Coalition Exhibition of Young Artist was the exhibition for which Mucoterie and Sinjon coterie, that were led by the graduates of 1963 and 1964from Hong-lk Univ were united. For the review, the members are listed:Boonghyon Choi. Youngja Kim. Taehyon Lee. Bockchul Moon, Tan Lim(Myoung-jin Lim) and Iksang Jin belonged to the Mu coterie: Myongyong Choi, Seungwon Su, Seungjo Lee, Suik Kim, Kiok in, Changhong Choi, Sanglak Lee and Chongs up Ham to the Origin coterie; and to the Sinjon coterie, the above-mentioned 6 people. Mu coterie held its first exhibition in 1962 and the secondwas about the experiment of modern art.
Its new members, Tan Lim and Iksang Jin were quite willing to help in planning the coalition exhibition, even though they did not graduate from Hong-lk Univ. Tan Lim, who in well known as a previous diplomat and whose real name is Myounjin Lim, joined in as an avant-grade musician. Kangja Chung and SunheeSim from Sinjon, who were impressed by the members' enthusiasm for the coalition exhibition, willingly joined in.
The Coalition Exhibition of Young Artist was realized by the young generation's common will to break the situation in the early 1960's that was dominated by abstract expressionism. The exhibition was the event which formed the divide of the time. They tried to actively experience the coming of the new era by seminars, happening, street campaigns and several events. The seminar entitled(The World Trend of the Art after the Abstract) was held at the Center of Public Information where the exhibition was held. 11 Lee, Hoon Kim, Myoungjin Lim were invited as speakers. On the first day of the exhibition, the Mu and Sinjon coteriesled the street campaign. They started from Soggong-Dong where the Center of Public Information was located and took tours of Taepyongro, Kwanghwamoon,Chongno, Ulchiro, Chungmuro and Myong-Dong. The arts of the time was challenged by the march.
[The interrelation between forms] Ropes, Cardboards
Their slogan shows it more clearly. (Korea without the museum of the modern arts) , (Acting Artists) and (Works after the abstract) were the slogans that scathingly criticized hte authoritarian art system led by the 'National Art Award'. (Korea without the museum of the modern arts) was the slogan that directly criticized the lack of the Government's cultural policy. (Acting Artist) and (Work after the abstract) were the ones that put emphasis on the attitude as an artist that they were heading for, and on the fact that they had to be the main body which sought for a new way. And the happening performed around the pavilion showed what they headed for.
(Happening of a plastic umbrella and and candlelight) was written by me. With this happening, I intended a sort of criticism on civilization by comparing a plastic umbrella symbolizing the modern material civilization with candlelight symbolizing our spirit, and finally breaking and trampling down the umbrella. Very often 1 had heard the word, 'happening', from foreign magazines or foreign news but it was first time that our young artists acted it, on this, land by themselves, 1 think the happening that was soon popularized showed a part of the intense consciousness to get out of situation, rather than the simple gesture to draw people's attention or interest into it. As it is called the act of artists, 'happening' has to be regarded as one of transitions and also the changed form developed from an action painting.
The Coalition Exhibition of Young Artists had been the talk of the country because of the exhibits, the street campaign and the happening. This exhibition led the young generation up to break off the old habit of the abstracts were the main current ones among the works from the Original coterie. Neo Dadaism and Nouveau Realism were the dominating trends among the works from the Mu and the SinJon coteries. Kukjin Kang submitted the work that colored dyes was going up and down inside the plastic bag which was put in another plastic bag, He also exhibited a work piled up by bottles and glasses. The room decorated by the SinJon coterie was a kind of performance like nowadays. This work had the strong message to break off the boundary between the arts and daily life.
Though the coalition exhibition has never been held since the first event, the Coalition Conference of Young Artists had continued their activities like several happenings and the workshops of the modern arts. The conference had acted during the transitional period from 1967 to 1969. Therefore, its members had a high consciousness about the transition.
ukjin Kang played an active role in several happenings. I remember that he directed the composition of and the act of the following happenings: (Festival of Colored Vinyl) that was held at the C'est si bon Music Center in May, 1968;(Transparent ballon and nude) held at the same place in 1968; (Murder at Han riverside) held at a beach of the Han river in October, 1968. Chanseung Chung and Kangja Chung from the Sinjon coterie worked together with him. He had participated in almost every happening held in Korea from 1967 to 1968. In the1970's, happenings continued by individuals and groups. But in many ways its content was changed, compared to the earlier times. The happening in the earlier times possessed strong situational elements because a civilization criticism was associated with a reality criticism. Through this happening they could directly express the criticism against civilization or reality, which could not be represented on their canvas. Comparing with the earlier times, the happening in the 1970'sseemed to have had a strong inclination toward the well-cultivated conceptual works.
Kukjin Kang and Changseung Chung had led the early stage of happening. It stransition toward reality criticism had to radically confront the military regime of the time. Therefore, it was expected that the regime would take sanctions against the happening titled (The 4th group) in the 1970's. It is more correct to say that we had already found a sign of the sanctions from the happening itself, The happening (Murder at Han riverside) was organized by Kukjin Kang, Changseung Chung and Kangja Chung (Murder at Han riverside) was outstanding because it was held outdoors. The event also rebelled against the existing ideology of art at that time. They attacked manque artist people blind to culture, shirkers from culture, illicit fortune makers, political artists and cultural tumblers (who blindly jumped on the prevailed arts), Three of them held the funeral for dishonest artists by burying themselves in a sand pit. Kukjin Kang had not participated in a happening after (Murder at Han riverside) This meant that the first stage of the happening led by Kukjin Kang and Chanseung Chung was ended.
From then, up to the year of 1973 when Kukjin Kang exhibited his cubism works at Myong-Dong Gallery, there is not any record about him. 1 just heard that he committed himself to the work of decorating the interior of shops around Myong-Dong. During his reclusive time of 2 or 3 years, the modern arts of A.G. Look at originalre-type founded in 1969. Conceptual arts and minimalism had become the dominant trends in almost every field. His works submitted at his solo exhibition might be influenced by such a trend of those times. This exhibition entitled (The Interrelation Between Forms) had the impression that his self-confidence became more distinguished, but the experimental spirit of the Coalition Exhibition of Young Artists in 1967 had not ended. The exhibition was filled with the conceptual works that put stress on a variety of expressions from material and on the changeability of the situation In the works, he brought various physical developments into relief.
He made it possible through the planes and objects that were structured by fabrics, ropes, cardboards. Korean papers, the material's own qualities and the contrasted relationship between the qualities.
His conceptual work was succeeded up to the tea Endefendant exhibitions in 1973 and 1974. The Endefendant exhibition that the Korean Institute of Arts hosted at the National Museum of the Modern Arts located at Duksu Palace was the important experimental exhibition for the Korean modern arts in the 1970's.1 remember that the exhibition was a specific event at that time because it was excluded from every form of review.
At the exhibition, Kang exhibited a work in which he put up a block of which the top was surrounded by cloth and was tied by ropes. Through this work, he showed his continuing interest in the specific relationship between the material and the situational.
In those times, Kang was running a print making studio around Hong-lk Univ., where 1 visited several times. At the studio there was a printing course in which many young artists who were interested in print attended.
He had continue to work with oil-painting along with the print making since the exhibition at the Seoul Arts Gallery in 1973. He held many exhibitions for prints in several foreign countries, like the Korea-U.S.A Co-Exhibitions for prints at LosAngels, the Europe Tour Exhibition of Korean Paintings and the Korea-China Co-Exhibition for the Modern Print. Around 1974, with some artists from Mu and Sinjon coteries Kang formed the group, 'Infinite'. But its activities were not so outstanding. Until his death, Kukjin had acted as a leading artist in the Exhibition of Seoul Method.