Baik Art Gallery

WHEN THE SPRING WIND BLOWS

When The Spring Wind Blows | 30 May – 20 June 2024 | Han Young Soo
Hy1
Han Youngsoo
Seoul, Korea 1956-1963, 2022
Toned gelatin silver print
16 x 20 in
Hy1
Han Youngsoo
Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea 1956, 2021
Toned gelatin silver print
20 x 16 in
Hy1
Han Youngsoo
Seoul, Korea 1956-1963, 2022
Toned gelatin silver print
20 x 16 in
Hy1
Han Youngsoo
Mapo, Seoul, Korea 1958, 2022
Toned gelatin silver print
40 x 30 in
Hy1
Han Youngsoo
Seoul, Korea 1956-1963, 2023
Toned gelatin silver print
20 x 16 in
Hy1
Han Youngsoo
Hangang River, Seoul, Korea 1956-1963, 2022
Toned gelatin silver print
16 x 20 in
Hy1
Han Youngsoo
Bando Hotel, Euljiro 1-ga, Seoul, Korea 1956-1963, 2021
Toned gelatin silver print
40 x 30 in
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ABOUT

New York––On May 30, Baik Art is pleased to present Han Youngsoo: When the Spring Wind Blows, an exhibition of works by Korean photographer, Han Youngsoo (1933-1999). Co-curated with the Han Youngsoo Foundation and in collaboration with Waave Foundation, the exhibition presents 26 images from Han’s oeuvre, highlighting his nuanced photographs of Korean women from 1956-1963.

Following the destruction of the Korean War, Han captured images of everyday life amidst the transformation of women’s roles in South Korea. The mass casualties of men in the war required women to take charge of businesses and household affairs, making them key players in the rebuilding of post-war South Korea. Han recognized women as the nation’s future, following their everyday lives and activities in the workplace. Unlike other photographers of his time, Han’s images capture the refinement of the post-war era and the human spirit, determined to continue living following total devastation and loss.

Han’s photographs quietly refute popular traditional images of Korean women as weak and passive. The women in his photographs are empowered, independent, and capable. They simultaneously carry children and balance heavy baskets on their heads. They run food and clothing stalls in the marketplace or wash clothes and dry them by the river.

Han conveys the multi-faceted experiences of womanhood in South Korea, also portraying women at leisure and in society. He spent significant time photographing the streets of Myeongdong, a bustling nucleus for commerce and fashion in Seoul. Han captured the changing attitude and style of the “Myeongdong Girl,” who followed the latest fashion trends coming from the West. His images document the interplay between modernity and tradition during a pivotal moment in Korean history. His female subjects stroll in hanbok, Korean traditional dress, alongside young women in Western-style dress suits and skirts. Women sit comfortably on the street or in coffee shops, reading newspapers, chatting, and freely engaging with men.

Han’s images are exquisitely composed, offering a visual record of the country’s revitalization and modern rebirth through a keen artistic lens. In some cases, he relies on architecture and environmental elements to carefully frame his subjects. In others, he tilts the camera askew, imbuing his images with motion and the sense that these moments are suspended and fleeting. Han’s camera sits patient and poised, capturing the instant as a couple perfectly aligns with the curve of a tree, or as a woman waits, umbrella in hand, to cross the street. With a realist technique reminiscent of early Magnum photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour (Chim), and Marc Riboud, Han captures everyday life from the perspective of the crowd, a bystander in the street, or a birds-eye view from the rooftops.