Yoon Il Kwon

1990 · Republic of Korea

Artist biography


Il Kwon Yoon (Incheon, South Korea – 1990) studied at the Hong-Ik University (Printmaking, BFA), Seoul, South Korea. Now he attends a Master’s degree in Print to the Royal College of Art, London.

Adopting very human tendencies to make sense of our world – stacking, layering, ordering, filtering and re-membering – Yoon encourages us to pay attention to the things we miss in our daily lives and invites us to look to the empty spaces in our memories. He reminds us how insensitive we have become to our surroundings and he asks us to slow down. Radically, the work is perhaps about ‘slow looking’, which, in the context of an art fair, is pretty challenging (Chiara Williams).

Yoon Il Kwon is seen as an emerging artist, who originates from the Republic of Korea, like other renowned artists such as Doo Kim, Min Yoon, Yim Ja-hyuk, Hyun Cho, and Seungchun Lim. Yoon Il Kwon was born in 1990.

About Yoon Il Kwon's works

Yoon Il Kwon is best known for working in the fields of Pop, Figuration, Conceptual, Minimalism and Abstraction. It is British curator Lawrence Alloway who coined the term Pop-Art in 1955, to describe a new form of “Popular” art – a movement symbolized by the imagery of consumerism, mass reproduction, the media and popular culture from which its name derives. The Pop Art artists got inspired by advertising, pulp magazines, billboards, movies, television, comic strips, and shop windows for their humorous, witty and satirical works, which both can be seen as a celebration and a takedown of popular culture. Some critically acclaimed artists renowned for their contribution to Pop Art include Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Richard Hamilton.

Some world-renowned artists praised for their figurative artworks include Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso or Paul Cézanne. Figurative art is a rather broad category, which can be simply designated as being the farthest from abstract art, since it essentially consists of the representation of objects or figures holding a strong reference to reality. Although it can be described as such, Figurative art nonetheless remains extremely resourceful and inventive, encompassing a multitude of styles and mediums, ranging from Photorealism to Neo-expressionism.

Conceptual art appeared as an art movement in the 1960s, critiquing the previously ruling modernist movement and its focus on the aesthetic. The term is usually used to refer to art from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. In Conceptualism, the idea or concept behind the work of art became more important than the actual technical skill or aesthetic. Conceptual artists used whichever materials and forms were most appropriate to get their ideas across. This resulted in a variety of different types of artworks that could look like almost anything – from performance to writing, to everyday objects. The artists explored the possibilities of art-as-idea and art-as-knowledge, using linguistic, mathematical, and process-oriented dimensions of thought as well as invisible system and processes for their productions.

Minimalism is an art movement born in New York city in the post World War II era, its essence emanating from a strong longing to escape the pre-set conceptions about art, and make artwork exist in its own reality rather than just ressemble life. Recognised as one of the most influential art movements of the 1960s, minimalism was trying to escape from abstract expressionism, which was the dominant genre in the late 1950s. The fathers of Minimalism were greatly influenced by European abstract movements, and works by the Dutch De Stijl artists, Russian Constructivists, as well as members of the German Bauhaus, which had pioneered radical abstraction. Some of the most significant artists of Minimalism include Frank Stella, Dan Flavin and Donald Judd. Purity and clarity are among some of the key concepts in Minimalism, which finds its core in a blank of emotional responses or metaphorical elements. Geometrical shapes and polished, pure lines are creating artworks that will grant the viewers with strong visual responses, but its purpose is not to inspire emotions, nor to reflect the artist's own expression and feelings. Minimalist artists were bored of the gestural elements found to previous art movements, and were seeking to remove any elements that would suggest self-expressionism. As Frank Stella said, the essence of Minimalism is that "you see what you see".

Further Biographical Context for Yoon Il Kwon

Yoon Il Kwon was born in 1990 and was primarily influenced by the 1990s growing up. A group of artists working in the United Kingdom, who came to be known as the YBAs, or Young British Artists, defined the artistic culture of the 1990s. Affiliated loosely by their age and nationality, they were a varied collective of practitioners. A number of the YBAs attended the Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths in London, and were favoured by the ‘super collector’ of the time, Charles Saatchi. The most renowned member of the group is Damien Hirst, and other members included Chris Ofili, Tracey Emin, Marc Quinn, Gavin Turk, Sarah Lucas and Sam Taylor-Johnson (née Sam Taylor-Wood). The YBAs became famous for their use of shock tactics and sensationalism, alongside their use of throwaway materials, wild lifestyles and an outlook that was rebellious yet entrepreneurial. Due to the high amount of media coverage that they garnered, they dominated British art during the 1990s, and their work was epitomised in the group show ‘Sensation’.

The art world was influenced by a number of trends throughout the decade, and was characterised by the derisive sculpture of Maurizio Cattelan, and sensitive, conceptual advancements as shown in the work of artists including Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

Relational Aesthetics, a term coined by curator Nicholas Bourriaud to describe the act of creating art based on human relations and their social context, became a key idea in the 1990s. Works by artists including Douglas Gordon, Gillian Wearing, Philippe Parenno and Liam Gillick were described as important artists who worked to this agenda.

In Japan, a trend began to develop in response to the boom in advertising and consumerism that took place during the 1980s. The comic book culture of manga appeared as an art form, and was related to trends in advertising and graphic design. One of the prominent contemporary Japanese artists was Takashi Murakami, who coined the term ‘Superflat’, a theory inspired by the aesthetic characteristics of manga and the nature of post-war Japanese culture. Having been inspired by his experiences in New York City in the mid-1990s, Murakami formed an influential collective of artists called Kaikai Kiki, which became internationally recognised in a number of countries.

Conceptual photography began to gain popularity, and was particularly inspired by German ideas and artists. German artists like Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, and Wolfgang Tillmans gained major recognition, and in turn artists such as the Canadian Jeff Wall created works with a cinematic quality that was inspired by the German artists’ work. In terms of painting, Albert Oehlen and Martin Kippenberger gained influential status in the artistic community.

Yoon Il Kwon

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