No Artist can ‘Bribe’ a Historical and World Renowned Institution such as the Louvre

Mike von Joel / Editor in Chief, STATE MEDIA, London

23 April 2014

I feel compelled to write following certain news items brought to my attention through the international news feeds that are accessed daily by my office.

In particular, my attention has been drawn to the insidious calumnies currently being directed at the Korean photographer and artist we know in the UK as AHAE.

I have no knowledge of the politics or business infrastructure of South Korea and have no authority for making any comment on current or past activities of corporate entities based therein. However, as the editor in chief of the largest circulation art & photography magazine based in London and serving the whole of the UK, I do have the authority to comment on the standing of the Korean photographer AHAE, his work and his status in the contemporary European art world.

1. His recent exhibition programme

AHAE has recently completed an exhibition programme that began modestly in Prague under the auspices of one of the Czech Republic’s leading curators, museum director, critic and artist: Prof Milan Knížák.

It culminated with a major exhibition in Paris under the umbrella of the Louvre with a personal citation by the Director of the Louvre, Mr Henri Loyrette. This was followed by a tribute exhibition at the Palace of Versailles at which Mr Loyrette attended as one of the guests of honour.

AHAE showed photographic works from his conceptual landscape series and also some of his natural history studies of wild life – these being representative of his declared interest in sustaining the planet and its natural resources.

It has apparently being claimed that these were somehow ‘bogus’ exhibitions and the result of AHAE’s associates ‘buying’ favours with these organisations.

Accusations like these are so ridiculous that they barely merit discussion. No artist, however exalted, can ‘bribe’ a historical and world renowned institution such as the Louvre. Ask the simple question: why would the Louvre jeopardise its centuries old reputation for any individual that happened to offer financial inducements? It is an organ of the French State and dedicated to superior works of art across all disciplines. The sole reason AHAE enjoyed a collaboration with this august institution was on the basis of merit – supported by the opinion of a number of eminent critics who have witnessed the development of AHAE photographic works over the last three years or so.

2. The price of AHAE’s photographs.

There have been further accusations that AHAE’s works cannot possibly command the prices that have been quoted. Suffice it say that the most expensive contemporary photograph in world is by Andreas Gursky – a German artist. Called Rhine II. It was bought for £2.7 million. It is a large scale work that simply depicts the Rhine River. It is illustrated here:

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Large scale photographs using the latest digital processes at the idiom of the moment and landscape is a perennial favourite with serious collectors.

3. Sponsorship of Exhibitions

Finally, I am given to understand that some corporate sponsorship initiatives are being re-addressed and re-defined as ‘bribery’ or otherwise as ‘corrupt’ practice.

Suffice it to say that every major exhibition – indeed, even modest exhibitions of quality – are sponsored in the current contemporary art market. Deutsche Bank and USB are constant high profile supporters of events in the UK; in America and Europe this is even more the ‘norm’.

This year (2014) Euisun Chung, vice-chairman of Hyundai, announced the new 11-year sponsorship deal with London’s Tate Modern art gallery valued at in excess of £5 million.

I am personally appalled at the grotesque distortions being aimed at the artist AHAE all of which appear to be completely fabricated and without foundation.

Yours sincerely,

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Mike von Joel DipAD MA

Editor in Chief

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