June 12, 2019 - National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon - 100th Anniversary of Birth: Quac Insik
June 12, 2019

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon

Quac Insik, Work, 1962. Glass on panel, 72 x 102 cm. MMCA collection.

100th Anniversary of Birth: Quac Insik
June 13–September 15, 2019

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon
313 Gwangmyeong-ro, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do
13829 Gwacheon-si
Republic of Korea
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm,
Saturday 10am–9pm

T +82 2 2188 6000

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This large-scale retrospective commemorating the 100th anniversary of Quac Insik’s birth is comprised of the artist’s works and archives remaining in Korea and Japan. Quac Insik (1919–88) delved into the concept of materiality even before related discussions began in Japan. As an artist who moved to Japan in 1937 and carried out his work within Japan’s artistic circles, Quac Insik produced pioneering work yet failed to receive adequate critical appraisal. This exhibition premieres his undisclosed works remaining in Korea and Japan to reassess the importance of his works.

Quac Insik was an artist ahead of his times. He produced works that experimented with the materiality of various objects such as broken glass, brass, and paper. With regard to materiality, Western art gave rise to the arte povera of the late 1960s, whereas Japan saw the rise of Mono-ha in the 1970s as a noteworthy artistic current corresponding to international trends—yet Quac Insik’s artwork predated these developments. In the exhibition catalog for the 1975 Osaka Formes Gallery retrospective, Minemura Toshiaki wrote, “[The art world’s] advance in 1962 deserves express mention as a secret yet nonetheless momentous event signaling Quac’s individual transformation while also predicting the transformation of Japanese art in the late 1960s.”(1) Since the early 1960s, basic shapes such as dots and circles, as well as a deep-seated interest in material, served as consistent threads running through Quac’s artwork. In investigating the essence of materials and the elemental nature of dots and lines, Quac directly and indirectly influenced artists of the time.

Quac Insik carried out his artwork and developed himself as an artist in Japan, the only place he believed would afford him a place at the very forefront of artistic creation. As an avant-garde artist, Quac responded astutely to new trends and methods in painting, remaining ever the assertive man of action. However, his achievements failed to receive commensurate acknowledgement within Japanese society as his unique identity as a Zainichi Korean undoubtedly led to a lack of recognition. Pressing on as a pioneer steps ahead of the art world while observing and lending his ear to objects to commune with them, Quac Insik devoted his life to intense work and reflection. Quac also engaged in societal issues preceding art, putting his deliberations into practice as an avid activist. The MMCA hopes this exhibition of Quac Insik’s life and artistic world will offer insight as to how the concept of material originated and developed over time, thereby allowing visitors to observe and empathize with the conceptualization and meaning of material within the contexts of Japan and Korea.


(1) Hirai Ryoichi, “Critique of the Artist: When Quac Insik Meets Objects,” Notebook of Art 404, no.2 (1976): 150–167, 172–175.

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon
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