LEE EUGEAN Gallery / November.14 – December.12.2014
Suh is an inborn observer. He said in an interview that he was by nature very curious about people and thus observed the innumerable people he met at subway stations or bus stops. As a consequence Suh has often felt and portrayed their inner aspects intuitively. Figure paintings entitled the Urbanites series, produced since the mid-1980s, are credited as works that eloquently reveal people’s emotion in desolate urban space. His self-portrait series include dozens of drawings and oils featuring his upper or whole body, turning his eyes from humans to himself. In these self-portraits Suh is always staring to the front with glaring eyes or looking at the artist himself holding the brush in the mirror. This series arouses our curiosity about his inner self and psychological state. However, these self-portraits are not intended to represent any specific psychology through diverse looks. In these paintings the artist with a rather expressionless face just calmly faces his self as an artist who performs painting as everyday labor.
Suh is a free traveler, travelling domestically and overseas several times a year. His travels have specific destinations but the destinations are not necessarily places with beautiful scenery. It is known that his work has been significantly inspired by travels; the Danjong series, which has been produced for many years, is said to be derived from a potent visual experience he had when looking down a river in Yeongweol, Gangwon Province. (It is also known that he left his long engaged teaching career in order to leave on trips whenever he wanted to.)
Unlike many landscape paintings, Suh’s landscapes are not to explore the abstract essence of nature in contrast with the city. Despite the absence of persons in his landscape paintings, they always convey narratives pertaining to some figure. He traveled mainly to places associated with historical figures or significant modern events; such as Daegwallyeong, Jirisan, Haeinsa, Donghye(the East Sea), Baengnyeongdo, Tongyeongand recently Paengmok Harbor (related to the sinking of MV Sewol). He draws out narratives from these places and represents his sensibility, sympathetic with them in his own composition and color. A sense of immediacy is another hallmark of Suh’s landscape painting. Many produce landscape paintings from photographs and consider sketching on the spot as appropriate for traditional painting, but this technique is very natural for Suh and a significant vehicle to imprint vividness of landscape he observed close up and personal on his work.
Born in 1951, Suh Yongsun graduated from the Seoul National University College of Fine Arts and its graduate school, afterwards serving as a professor of Western painting at his alma mater for 20 years up to 2009. In 2009 he was selected the Artist of the Year by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) but left the teaching profession in the same year. After then, he became fully committed to creative work as a full-time artist, traveling to many domestic and foreign places in the United States, Germany, Japan, and China. He held and joined innumerable solo and group exhibitions at home and abroad includingthe MMCA, Hakgoje, Art Center White Cube, KIPS Gallery in New York, RMIT Gallery in Melbourne, Gallery Son in Berlin, Shin Hwa Gallery in Hong Kong, and Fukuzmi Gallery inOsaka. His works are housed in many prestigious domestic and overseas institutions such as the MMCA, Seoul Museum of Art, Busan Museum of Art, Daegu Art Museum, OCI Museum of Art, and Wu Guanzhong Art Museum in Singapore.