When nature yields new art in sculpture

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When nature yields new art in sculpture


A sculpture by Shim Moon-seup currently on display at Hakgojae Gallery. Provided by the gallery

Sculptor Shim Moon-seup, 65, was extremely thankful when Seoul hosted the Olympics in 1988, although for rather unusual reasons.

The city had undergone major construction and many wooden tile-roofed houses were torn down. To a sculptor whose medium was wood, the discarded traditional roofs were like a gift from heaven.

“Some of them [the wooden rooftops] were a hundred years old. They weren’t brand new but contained history and life,” Shim said.

Thirty-nine of his works, including sculptures, drawings and photographs, are currently on display at Gallery Hyundai and Hakgojae Gallery, both in Jongno, central Seoul.

The solo exhibition, titled “The Presentation,” has been much awaited. It’s been 12 years since he last displayed his works in Korea. He has mostly held exhibitions in Paris, Milan, Osaka and Tokyo.

His last exhibition was at the IBU Gallery Gardens of the Palais Royal in Paris. Sculptures made of water, wood, iron and stone were displayed along the garden’s walking paths.

“The materials I use come from nature,” he said. “In sculpture, choosing the right material is most important, since it’s what reveals the artist the most.”

In the early 1960s, Shim sculpted using stainless steel and acrylic materials, which were the most common during that period of industrialization.

It wasn’t long, though, before he was searching for materials from nature.

“My works are inseparable from nature,” he said. “They bring familiarity to people.”

And the works currently on display at the two galleries certainly reflect this influence from nature.

One of the sculptures at Hakgojae Gallery is of bamboo stuck in a boat-shaped wooden pillar and water streaming in between big rocks.

“Natural elements like light and water interact and create a new artistic world,” he said.

In addition to big sculptures, there are also drawings and photographs on display at Gallery Hyundai.

Shim says taking photographs helps him brainstorm sculpting ideas.

“The Presentation” runs until Nov. 25.

For information, call Gallery Hyundai at (02) 734-6111 or Hakgojae Gallery at (02) 739-4937, or visit their Web sites at www.galleryhyundai.com and www.hakgojae.com.

By Lee Eun-joo Staff Reporter [angie@joongang.co.kr]
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