Master of kitsch chosen as MMCA Hyundai Motor Series artist

By Shim Woo-hyun

Choi Jeong-hwa envisions sculpture made with used dinnerware

  • Published : Feb 26, 2018 - 18:22
  • Updated : Feb 26, 2018 - 18:22
The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art has selected Choi Jeong-hwa as its fifth artist for the MMCA Hyundai Motor Series.

The MMCA Hyundai Motor Series is the museum’s long-term annual project launched in 2014 and sponsored by Hyundai Motor. The project is dedicated to assisting and promoting selected artists by providing them with opportunities to construct their own unique art platform and create new large-scale works. Previous participants include internationally acclaimed artists such as Lee Bul, Ahn Kyuchul, Kim Soo-ja and Im Heung-soon.

This year’s MMCA Hyundai Motor Series artist Choi is well-known for his large scale outdoor sculptures that combine Korean elements with global consumer culture. 

Artist Choi Jeong-hwa /MMCA

The artist uses kitsch materials, including various consumer goods, as well as recycled and found objects -- such as colorful plastic containers and cheap toys -- to build experiential exhibition spaces. His works have been shown at many prestigious biennials of contemporary art, including the Arsenale Kyiv in 2012, the 17th Sydney Biennial in 2010, the Gwangju Biennale in 2006 and the Korean pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

In addition, Choi’s exhibition “Happy Together” -- also known as “Plastic Jungle” -- was well-received at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki in 2016.

Choi currently serves as the artistic director for the Paralympic Games in PyeongChang. He will start off his project with the building of an 8.4-meter sculpture from used dinnerware.

The dinnerware will be collected through an event to be held between March 10 and 11, where visitors can donate their own used dishes. Choi plans to have participants’ names carved on the dishes to create the public art installation, which will be displayed at an exhibition scheduled to open on Sept. 8.

A panel of six experts, including art critic and Kyonggi University professor Park Young-taek, former chief curator at Plateau Ahn So-yeon, Busan Biennale Executive Director and Kookmin University professor Choi Tae-man, the MMCA’s curatorial department head Gang Seong-wan and MMCA Director Bartomeu Mari, participated in the selection of this year’s MMCA Hyundai Motor series artist.

“Choi has been seeking ways to communicate with the public throughout his career. Choi is an artist who has built an international reputation by representing Korean culture through his own unique philosophical and sentiment,” the panel said in announcing its selection.

Shim Woo-hyun (