A unique Korean cartoonist who inspired a generation of artists
I have to study the room before I forget, so I can use it in my cartoons, he said.
He died three years ago after a very active life. He was a fisherman, golfer, traveler, scuba diver, baseball player and even an amateur boxer. He authored cartoons like Iljime and Samgukji.
A retrospective on his work, Ko Woo-yung s Cartoons: Never Ending Story, will be held in July at Arko Museum. It is the nation s most notable comic art exhibition.
The retrospective offers Korean cartoonists a chance to promote their art and re-evaluate Korean cartoons, which have long been seen as low-brow entertainment.
The show will take an in-depth look at the historical context of Ko s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly the ways in which many young artists today reinterpret his work, says Kim Hyeong-mi, the curator at Arko. His work will be displayed on a large scale using the museum s versatile space.
Ko s sketchbooks reveal his eagerness to incorporate his experiences into his work. His work is accompanied by vivid phrases, such as a sea that mimics the sesame oils of the North Pole, scuba diving 15 meters below the sea in Cebu Island, the taste of meat from a dead fighting bull and edelweiss under the moonlight in Zurich.
His strong imagery and dramatic storytelling attracted a wide readership here, and several of his works were turned into TV dramas and films.
Iljime, a well-known story about a chivalrous robber set during the Joseon Dynasty, was recently made into a TV drama about a man disguised as a woman starring Lee Jun-ki from The King and the Clown.
In many ways, the exhibition in July, which the organizers spent three years putting together, is experimental. It chronicles Ko s art, and raises issues of censorship and obscenity that once overwhelmed the industry. For the exhibition in July, 10 artists will pay homage to Ko.
Film director and critic Kim Hong-joon will present a film that compares Ko s work with a film by Kim Ki-young, a veteran filmmaker.
Ko Seong-il, the artist s third son and a musical producer, will put on a show called When You Think of Me, inspired by his father s artistic spirit, at a different venue.
By Jeong Jae-suk JoongAng Ilbo [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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