GY: When did you first become interested in art?
DK: Given my peripatetic background, I was initially drawn to art for its potential for nonverbal communication. But the career altering decision came while I was enrolled in undergrad Art History courses on Modern Art and Photography.
I had a professor who could comfortably persuade us that even something as mundane as a Starbucks cup is a compelling sociocultural artifact of our times. I was pleasantly stirred by the idea that an image I had been mindlessly consuming could have many layers of embedded meanings, reminding me to stay curious and alert of the importance of a contextual reading. Since this ‘unlearning,’ I could never see anything as politically neutral – not even a blank page or screen. At the same time, I was fascinated by many great artists’ struggle for ‘perfection’ with their subtle nuisances, slanted humor, and imaginative powers, which I still see as a liberating and enriching source to our everyday existence.
GY: What are the different roles you’ve taken on in the art world?
DK: Upon completing my graduate studies in the States, I moved to Seoul in 2010 and have since been closely involved in helping build numerous exhibitions and projects with artists, curators, dealers, designers, journalists, art handlers, as well as many other participants in the scene. These experiences included some of the most established commercial galleries in Seoul, such as Kukje and Hyundai, as well as non-profit organizations, such as the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the Korean Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. What has guided me through these different chapters has been my interest in working with challenging artworks and expanding my understanding of the inner workings of the scene, with the hopes of cultivating my own set of values.
GY: What’s a day-in-the-life for you today at Chantal Crousel?
DK: So far it’s been a great learning and inspiring experience, as the gallery has a rich, respectable 40-year history and a roster of artists with immense intellectual rigor and artistic creativity. This opportunity is both motivating and a privilege as my primary role is to find ways to share their inspiring practices and the gallery’s particular attitude—which I believe is essentially about a steadfast belief in your values, enjoyment, and intellectual growth in art—with the local audience.
GY: What are your favorite aspects of the art world / what you do?
DK: Working with some of the most brilliantly creative and indefatigably hopeful minds.
GY: If you weren’t working in art, what would you be doing?
DK: I’d still be engaged in a field that requires creativity and explores human psychology and behavior.
GY: What excites you most about Seoul’s contemporary art scene?
DK: That it’s always in flux. Even as an insider, it’s difficult to keep up with the enormous shifts and expansions that have occurred in the last decade. However, I’d like to see it grow in depth and consistency as well.
GY: Have you had a favorite show in Seoul recently? Why did you enjoy it?
DK: The most recent exhibition that particularly struck me was the Lee Hyungkoo survey show at Busan Museum of Art. I’ve always had a penchant for solo exhibitions where you can study an artist’s oeuvre in depth to better understand the map of an artist’s mind. While the number of shows focusing on young and emerging (and quickly disappearing) artists have drastically increased, there are many mid-career Korean artists who could benefit from a proper retrospective or a survey exhibition. In a similar sense, I’m looking forward to the upcoming Chung Seoyoung solo exhibition at Seoul Museum of Art.
GY: If someone is visiting Seoul for the first time, where would you take them?
DK: Try the hole-in-the-wall restaurants or eateries at traditional markets for the ultimate Korean gastronomic experience.
Then plan a visit to the national heritage sites and major museums—the MMCA, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Amorepacific Museum of Art, Korea Furniture Museum, Seoul Museum of Craft Art, and Changgyeong Palace come to mind.
GY: Where do you spend most of your time? Any favorite spots to work remotely?
DK: In a quiet café or in a whiskey or cocktail bar. In recent years, Seoul has enjoyed a flourishing café & bar culture—there are some hidden gems with enduring qualities in Seochon, Mapo, Hannam, and Chungdam that have yet to fall victim to the selfie craze. I’m also always on the hunt for nice independent bookshops and libraries, such as Sojeonseolim.