At Seoul Museum of Art, works that broke new ground

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At Seoul Museum of Art, works that broke new ground


“Ballentine” by Kim Joon

Major works by influential Korean artists who have changed the landscape of Korean art - whether by incorporating unique subject matter or technique - will be shown at the “Rhetoric of the Images” exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Art.

The exhibition features 38 works by 14 artists, all aged between 45 and 60. The artists are Kwak Nam-sin, Kwon Yoh-hyeon, Kong Sung-hun, Kim Joon, Suh Yong-sun, Oh Won-bae, Yoo Geun-taek, Yoo Hyun-mi, Jung Jong-mee, Cho Duck-hyun, Ju Tae-seok, Hwang In-kie, Hwang Yong-jin and Hwang Ju-lie.

“We organized this group exhibition initially with the idea of doing a series of these kinds of exhibitions, where we would showcase key works by prominent Korean artists grouped into a certain category, whether by age or era,” said Chun So-rock, head curator for the exhibition.

Near the entrance, Jung Jong-mee’s abstract “Green Landscape” is featured. Through this painting, viewers will be able to recognize the artist’s influential style, in which she incorporates Western painting techniques with hanji, or Korean mulberry paper.

Other paintings in the exhibition depicting nature or a certain landscape with a different perspective include those by Kong Sung-hun, in particular his oil painting “Vinyl Greenhouse.” Inside the painting, an ordinary-looking greenhouse stands in front of a tall tree and church, with a large cross on top painted faintly in the background. The backdrop and the greenhouse are painted in orange-red, giving the work a supernatural, almost ghostly quality.


“Vinyl Greenhouse” by Kong Sung-hun

Artists known for their singular, oftentimes labor-intensive techniques are also included in the exhibition, including Cho Duck-hyun. One of the largest pieces in the exhibition is his pencil drawing on canvas, “Kanmeido Photo Studio Family.” A large family portrait is divided into blocks and put together like puzzle pieces. Even at close glance, the drawing looks more like a photo, old and faded from decades past.

Another artist who distorts the boundaries between photography and painting is Yoo Hyun-mi. In “Wooden Figure,” the artist disguises a photo of a desk with a wooden figure, a box and an old television in the form of a painting.

To get this painting-like effect, the artist covered the objects, as well as the background wall, in white plaster to paint on, using lighting and shadow techniques as she would on a canvas painting.


“Kanmeido Photo Studio Family” by Cho Duck-hyun Provided by the museum

Afterward, she took the photo without any natural light, so as to showcase the shadows and light she artificially painted on the objects.

“People often compare the merits of photography and painting. By playing with different genres, including photography, painting and sculpture, the artist confuses the set ideas of what each genre is supposed to represent,” said Chun.

*The “Rhetoric of the Images” exhibition runs until Sept. 18 at the Seoul Museum of Art in Jung District, central Seoul. The nearest subway station is City Hall Station, lines No. 1 and 2, exit 1 or 12. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Tuesdays to Fridays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. Admission is free. For more information, call (02) 2124-8800 or visit

By Cho Jae-eun []
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