Art exhibition looks at Korean artists’ ties with US arts

By Shim Woo-hyun

Seoul National University Museum of Art holds exhibition ‘Oscillation: Between Korea and the United State’

  • Published : Jun 25, 2018 - 16:22
  • Updated : Jun 25, 2018 - 16:43

In 1957, Seoul National University held an art exchange with the University of Minnesota, marking the nation’s first international art exchange with the US.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the event, SNU’s art museum is holding an exhibition that highlights works of Korean artists whose careers have unfolded in the US. Titled “Oscillation: Between Korea and the United States,” the exhibition features eight artists of different generations from the 1950s to 2000s, tracing how Korean artists of different eras responded to the arts in the US.

Chun Sung-woo’s 1959 painting “August Mandala” (MoA, Seoul National University)

One of the featured artists is from the very first generation that studied and worked in the US -- Korea’s early abstract impressionist painter Chun Sung-woo, who is considered a pioneer in abstract painting here. He studied at the California School of Fine Arts and was influenced by the Bay Area Figurative School, but his works also show his serious take on Eastern aesthetics.

Choi Wook-Kyung is another artist influenced by abstract impressionism. His works also offer visitors a glimpse into the Korean identity. The artist tried to push boundaries by adapting to the artistic movements of the US. 

Choi Wook-kyung’s 1968 painting “Experiment No.2” (MoA, Seoul National University)

Alongside Chun and Choi’s works on the third floor, there are works by Lim Choong-sup. Although Lim’s works appear to have been influenced by minimalism and conceptualism in the US, they also seem to derive from his private memories. Lim’s five works at the exhibition show how an artist from the countryside in Korea tried to resolve himself with his life in the New York metropolitan area. Lim has continued his work in New York since 1973.

The following generation of artists who went to the US, however, seem to take on a different dimension, perhaps because more interactions started taking place between the East and West.

Artists who joined the exhibition with backgrounds studying in the US include Noh Sang-kyoon, Ma Jong-il, Kang Young-min, Kim Gin-a and Han Kyung-woo.

Artist Ma Jong-il, who studied in the US, has done a woven sculpture, “Please Let Me Know If You Can Come to Visit Me Monday Morning,” installed at the outdoor space in front of the museum designed by Rem Koolhaas. Meanwhile, installation artist Han has presented the video installation “Star Pattern Shirt,” a video projection of the flag of the US created by props from daily life. Noh is presenting “For the Worshipers,” a Buddha statue covered with blue sequins -- of many other works.

Noh Sang-Kyoon’s 2007 sculpture “For the Worshipers” (MoA, Seoul National University)

The university’s MoA exhibition also provides archive materials regarding art exchanges that took place in 1957.

The exhibition runs through Sept. 16.

By Shim Woo-Hyun (