This letter is offered to correct inaccurate statements that are being made concerning the Korean artist, AHAE, by the Korean press, and others, regarding his integrity and the value of his art.
I am extremely proud of the fact that I was privileged to discover AHAE in my role and capacity as Director General of the National Gallery in Prague, one of the oldest Museums of Art, founded in 1796. (I am currently a professor at Prague’s Academy of Fine Arts.) I served as the Director General of the National Gallery of Prague for over a decade, from 1999 to 2011.
It was during my tenure that I discovered AHAE, and his unique work and perspective. I was fortunate and honored to be able to organize a very successful exhibition of his art, along with a representative publication that was published thereafter by KANT, 2012.
AHAE was an unknown artist when I first came in contact with his photographs. When I first viewed his work I thought it they were just normal images of nature. However, as I started to look closer and closer I began to see things that I didn’t catch the first time. These feelings continued to stay with me and I felt that the photographs contained a kind of magic to them.
I made the decision (not only me but also my staff – a team of curators of modern and contemporary art collection under the guidance of section director Professor Tomáš Vlček) to host his exhibition at the National Gallery based on the impact his art had on me and that AHAE’s work had something special to them and deserved the opportunity to be seen by the world. This decision I made was independent from any discussion of a donation or conditions on hosting AHAE and his works.
While I say this with all humility, it is the duty and role of an established art museum to discover new artists and talents, and bring their visions and work to light. As a museum director, that was my goal and job—in bringing to light the perspective and vision of AHAE through his photography renowned the world over now.
Those who would seek to denigrate his art, or the value of his enterprise, know nothing of the art world and are ignorant of the true worth and talent of AHAE, whose renown is attributable to his talent and hard work.
Those who would also profess to denigrate the great museums of the world with base comments such as that they exhibit just for pay, know nothing of how art museums operate.
I am greatly bothered by the inaccurate reporting by the Korean media and others, daring to impugn AHAE’s integrity and artistic talent. There is absolutely no truth to any suggestion that either AHAE or the Art museum created his exhibition only because of a donation. Great museums do not operate as such. The AHAE exhibition held at our museum was entirely based upon the legitimacy of his art and nothing more.
Professor Milan Knížák
General Director, National Gallery, Prague (1999 – 2011)