A Pioneer of the Modern Korean Abstract Sculpture The Beauty of Non-Sculpting, Kim Chong Yung
""Kim Chong Yung" whose life was the art, and the art became his life. Master of the Modern Korean Sculpture"
Famously known as a pioneer of the Modern Korean Abstract Sculpture, Woosung Kim Chong Yung devoted his life as a sculptor and educator who aimed to gain deep understanding on the world by studying both the oriental and western philosophy and culture and expressing them in the form of sculptures. His world of art was “a constant search for transcendence and absolutism” flourishing under the ideology of life, art, and love. Many artists who studied under Kim are still following the footsteps of their great master by dedicating their works and life for art and education.
His life and works have made significant contributions to the modern Korean history of sculpture in the 20th century as he devoted his life as a noble artist and educator even in the midst of the darkest time of our history.
※ Lee Won Su, a famous children's story writer, portrayed Kim Chong Yung's birthplace as a "flower palace" in the lyrics of his chidlren's song.
Kim Chong Yung’s art is a collection of the beauty of simplicity, which served as an ideology and spirit of the modern western and eastern art, and the truth system that connects physical and psychological worlds with his extraordinary experimental spirit. Accepting external features of western sculptures based on the vitalism, Kim also gave reinterpretation from the oriental view of nature and reflected them in his works that translated the ‘structural beauty’ of calligraphy into cubes. Through the simple and repetitive forms in his works, a harmonious combination of minimalism and the oriental ‘beauty of non-sculpting’ is expressed.
"Non-sculpting does not mean abandonment or a hiatus of work but refers to a relaxed attitude of leaving blank space."
[Source: Kim Chong Yung Museum]
Master of Abstract Sculpture Moon Shin,
Symmetry of Nature and Life
"I work like a slave and create like a god."
Moon Shin was born in Japan and grew up in Masan, Korea. After studying at Nihon Art College in Japan, he left for France in 1961 to experience a new world of art and pursue his passion in abstract painting and sculptures. He earned an international reputation as a creative sculptor with his work "Soleillonautes" at the International Sculpture Symposium held in Port Barcares, France in 1970. After holding exhibitions in countries around the world, including France, Germany, Switzerland and Iran, he finally settled down in his hometown Masan in 1980.
His lifetime wish of building his own museum in his hometown of Masan finally came true in 1994. Unfortunately, he passed away the next year after a long battle with a chronic illness. In accordance with the will of the deceased, his museum was donated to the former Masan City and reestablished as "Masan City Moonshin Museum of Art" in April 2004.
Moon Shin's most representative sculpture is the monument titled "The Harmony of the Olympics," which was built to commemorate the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, standing 25 meters tall in Seoul Olympic Park.
Moon Shin's pieces achieved unique style in forms of symmetry, such as shapes of all the living creatures created by God, including human-beings. Moon Shin's symmetry represents absolutely pure abstract structures as well as the nature's organic structure. That is the reason his abstract sculptures remind the audience of the nature created by God. Strict or mechanic symmetry was not something that Moon Shin had pursued.
Just as all the forms in the nature are subtly imbalanced and asymmetric, Moon Shin would deliberately left some elements of slight freedom and incompleteness in the symmetry of his works.
"Moon Shin's sculpture was born as a living organism."
[Source: Changwon City Masan Moonshin Museum of Art,Sookmyung Women’s University Moonshin Museum,SOMA Museum of Art]
Park Chong Bae, a New Horizon of the Modern Korean Sculpture
“ Beauty of straight lines and curves”
What drove Park Chong Bae’s career as a sculptor was his strong spirit of challenge hidden behind his reserved personality. Filled with youthful ambition, he led the modern Korean sculpture in the 1960’s. By winning the Prime Minister Award in 1964 and the Presidential Award for his ‘Circle of History’ the following year, he had the honor of becoming the very first artist winning the highest award in the National Art Exhibition for a sculpture and also achieving a monumental accomplishment of having an abstract sculpture officially recognized. He made his international debut by participating in the Paris Biennale and the Sao Paulo Biennale at a young age. While serving as a professor at Hongik University, he left for the U.S. and settled down in Michigan in 1969 to seek a new working environment and make a new leap forward in his world of art. He has since created and exhibited his works in both Korea and the U.S.
Park Chong Bae’s sculptures give an impression of persistence and continuity as if the audience faced the world of eternity. That is because the vital energy inherent in the simple forms of his pieces conveys endless abundance. They contain the life and memory of human-beings and live the incomparable life of sculptures themselves with distinctive and independent autonomy.
"The geometric aspect and the organic aspect revealed in their forms express a mysterious power flowing from correspondence and combination – a power coming from the intersection of oriental and occidental elements."
[Source: Changwon City Masan Moonshin Museum of Art, SOMA Museum of Art]
Master of the Minimal Sculpture in Korea Sculptural Poet,
Park Suk Won
"'Weaving,' Birth of new sculpture language"
Park Suk Won stood out as a promising sculptor in the artistic community in his early days. He won the Speaker of the National Assembly Award in the National Art Exhibition for two consecutive years in 1968 and 1969, and also received the President of the National Academy of Arts Award in 1974. He had previously won a special award in 1962 and 1965. In 1972 when he reached 30 years of age, he emerged as one of the recommended artists in the National Art Exhibition, which was the greatest honor for artists at the time.
Scorched Earth,” which earned him the Speaker of the National Assembly Award in the National Art Exhibition in 1968, was critically acclaimed as “the most iconic Informel or Expressionist abstract sculptural work in Korea and a milestone in the modern Korean sculpture.”
Around this time, he also participated in distinguished international exhibitions around the world, including the Paris Biennale (1967), the Sao Paulo Biennale (1969), and the Sydney Biennale (1973).
Park Suk Won emphasizes the “subtle scene” and “internal transition” of objects. “Internal transition” means that one should not regard the qualities of objects as the target of observation but instead should take a contemplative view on them. In other words, one should perceive objects sensuously and intuitively through a subjective response. Although no color or pattern is added to his works, they are fascinating because they contain “highly sensitive shaping” projected onto them and reveal the subtle qualities of objects with “tentacles of a delicate sense.” He carves out contrivance or unnaturalness and leads his works in a comfortable and calm manner, thereby allowing smoothness in tranquility, stability in comfort, and internal order in simplicity. As seen from the rugged surfaces, wrinkles, and empty holes in his recent works, his sculptures amplify the presence of objects and pursue integration with them as if his pieces were trying to help the nature regain its true colors.
[Source: Changwon Moonshin Museum of Art, Park Suk Won]
The Completion of the Korean Realistic Human Body Sculpture
Sculptor of Life, Kim Young Won
"Defining the Independent Concept of the Realistic Sculpture,'Living Vitality'"
Born in Changwon, Gyeongnam in 1947, Kim Young Won graduated from College of Fine Arts, Hongik University in 1975 and graduate school of the same university in 1977. He has held a number of individual exhibitions both in and out of Korea. When Kim was selected as a participating sculptor in the 22nd Sao Paulo Biennale in 1994, Nelson Aguilar highly praised him as“the best artist of the Biennale who has brought the exquisite harmony of the oriental spirit and the modern fine arts.” Kim is best known to the Korean public for the statue of King Sejong the Great that sits in the Gwanghwamun Plaza, central Seoul. In the 1960s and 1970s when abstract fine arts were the mainstream of the art circle, he started his career as a realistic sculptor and has become the master of the Korean realistic sculpture. He is a rare figure in the Korean modern sculpture scene in that he has been developing his own world of art for over 40 years by consistently creating human body sculptures under the theme of “human existence.”
“Living vitality” is the raison d'etre of his sculptural art itself and also the answer to the question of why he ever makes sculptures. For him, living vitality is not a keyword that defines the living organisms in a biological sense. This term rather implies when one can say that objects including human beings are truly alive. Kim Young Won’s body sculptures deal with the extremity of the cognition of people in modern days who believe that a human body is in existence as soulless matter. He devalues the 'cogito corporalis' of modern people and advocates the realistic sculpture style to convince people of the reason for the devaluation. In this sense, his realism is unprecedented in the history of modern sculpture. In particular, by taking a different path from the western realism centered on the masses, his realism presents the reason for the existence of sculptural art in the post-industrial society and in the age of materialism.
[Source: Changwon City Masan Moonshin Museum of Art, Park Suk Won]