The past and the personal at photographer’s first show in seven years

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The past and the personal at photographer’s first show in seven years

If you’re a photography buff, this one’s for you. Kang Woon-gu, who is often credited for contributing to a new era of photography in the 1970s and 1980s, is back with his first solo exhibition in seven years.

The exhibition, at the Museum of Photography, Seoul, is perhaps appropriately titled “Embracing Evening.”

“Perhaps the change comes from aging but my interest in social issues has shifted to works with a reflection of personal interest,” said Kang, explaining the shift in his style over the years, which is evident in his latest exhibition.

“Kang is widely recognized as one of the leaders in incorporating artistic values to photography,” according to Jung Da-won of the museum’s PR department,

The current exhibition, containing photographs taken by Kang from 1995 to 2008, contains 113 works divided into three sections: “Continuous Shots,” “Shadows” and “Dirt and Soil.”

Through the years, his works have been characterized by simple images with depth and substance.

According to the organizers, Kang’s previous works expressed his discontent and frustration over the loss of a part of Korean culture. In the process, Kang was also making a record before certain aspects of Korean culture were lost for good.

“If Kang represented strong images showing discontent at the loss of traditional culture through modernization in the past, his latest works have a softer or gentler side to them,” Jung said.

This is evident in Kang’s photographs of scenes of rural areas. The images provide a simple agricultural life; for example, a serene scene of workers quietly working on a farm or a close-up shot of a salt worker and footprints in soil.

As for why it has taken so long for Kang to organize an exhibition, he is simply a man who does not work in haste. “There’s been a large increase in photography in Korea as of late. It’s great to see the change and demand for exhibitions but I like to prepare until I’m fully content with my works.

“After all, exhibitions are not events but rather an opportunity for artists to showcase quality works,” explained Kang.


“Embracing Evening” is on now through Dec. 6. The Museum of Photography, Seoul is located near Mong-chontoseong Station, line No. 8, exit 2. For more information, call (02) 418-1315 or visit www.photomuseum.or.kr. Admission is free.


By Jason Kim Staff Reporter [jason@joongang.co.kr]
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