Elements of Hangul shine in poetic ink masterpieces

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Elements of Hangul shine in poetic ink masterpieces

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A calligraphic drawing by Shim Eung-sub, from his current exhibition. [JoongAng Ilbo]

“Stars shine brightest in darkness and the sound of water is most silent in the deep.” This is a Hangul (Korean script) calligraphic poem by Shim Eung-sub, a Professor at Hyejeon College who uses the pen name “Neulbit.”
The words in the poem seem appropriate for Shim, who seems to have a dignity like the deep sea and the uniqueness of a bright star.
To further understand Shim’s philosophy it’s worth visiting an exhibition titled “Celebrating the Life of the People” at the Kyunghyang Daily News Art Gallery.
In the past, Shim has had major exhibitions in Beijing, Tokyo, Berlin, and Moscow. These exhibitions have helped promote Hangeul throughout the world while disseminating the culture, ethics, esthetics and moral philosophy of Korean society.
The present exhibition in Seoul displays about 50 pieces of Shim’s most recent calligraphic paintings in an anthology named, “The Fragrance of Ink: A Poetic Dialogue.” As one of the leading figures in Korean calligraphy, Shim expresses aspects of both modern and ancient Korea.
For Shim, all living and non-living objects are good subjects for the arts. For example, the shapes of mountains, animals and people inspire him to create vibrant brush strokes, which further display his philosophy toward beauty and nature. He says his thick black lines symbolize innocence and honesty.
Each of the titles of Shim’s works portray his core beliefs. “Harmony,” “Family” or “Happiness” for example. These titles are brush painted on his pieces in Hangul.
“People think of Hangeul calligraphic works as being dull, monotonous and lacking harmony and liveliness,” says Shim. “In order to supplement these aspects, I have used creativity to bring out the vibrant feeling of brush painting.”


“Celebrating the Life of the People” runs through May 16 at the Kyunghyang Daily News Art Gallery in Jeong-dong, central Seoul. Admission is free. The gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Mondays to Saturdays), and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Sundays). The nearest subway station is Seodaemun Station, line No. 5, exit 5. For more information, call (02) 6731-6751.


By Lee Eun-joo Contributing Writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

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