Lee Eugean Gallery will present a solo exhibition titled, <Nothing that is something> by Wongi Sul(1951), who has been working based on his interest in abstract painting for the last four decades of his life. After his four years as CEO of the Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation, this year’s solo exhibition is an opportunity to see over fifty pieces of latest drawings and paintings from 2018 to 2019, which especially marks the 30th anniversary since his first show in 1989.
In the exhibition, Sul unravelled his concern on the role of painting and its potential as he faced the process of visual language evolving at the art scene for a long time. Painting has been given different roles and possibilities since its emergence as the paradigm of society transforms, the perspectives of viewers also changed. Especially after the aesthetic transition from modernism to postmodernism, our visual habits have completely changed from the past, and as a result, the current views differ from the past. The meaning of painting’s existence has been put in a different light than in the past. Then, what is contemporary painting, and where the problem lies? The world we live in has already changed and is constantly changing. However, our attitude toward painting might be trapped within some point of glorious moment in the past. With these questions, the artist begins to ponder his attitude toward painting.
The weight of conceptual elements is increasing above all in artwork these days, painting often seems to be dominated by concepts and buried in visual customs. The artist envisioned painting as “Neither triviality nor everyday life, nothing that is something”, neither the way it serves to embody the subject consciousness nor as a pot for story-telling. The artist tried not to have thoughts while drawing. Sul’s drawing seems easily done as he avoids to draw well yet focused on his action and the process of itself. In his frame, our stereotypes toward painting disrupts. Sul particularly focuses, in this exhibition, on the most basic and simplest method of painting, while all his actions shown on the frame as it is, but at the same time, he pursues artwork without an additional narrative or linguistic interpretation. The rhythm and speed of the artist who deals with the brush, not the concept, and the flow of ideas in itself indicate the nature of the work. Wongi Sul searches for the way of painting’s existence that deviating from the sculptural tradition by expressing the process itself to have its independent presence rather than harmonize the separate elements with the others in the frame. And these frames open up the possibilities of a unique world of visual language that cannot be captured by speech or written language.
Wongi Sul(b.1951, Seoul) studied at Beloit College, Wisconsin, and completed his master’s degree at the Pratt Institute. Starting with his first solo exhibition at the Space Gallery in 1989, he held solo exhibitions over 20 times, and participated in more than 50 group shows; at New York Gallery David, JM Gallery, Walsh Gallery, Lee Hwaik Gallery and Kumho Museum of art. Since his return to Korea in 1993, he has worked as a professor at Duksung Women’s University (1998-1998) and the Korea National University of Arts (1998-2017) to foster younger students. Sul worked as a director of the opening of the drawing centre of Soma Art Museum (2006-2007), president of the Korea Institute of Genuine Education (2010-2012), CEO of the Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation (2017-2019), and director of exhibitions titled, ‘Mak Gutgi(draw carelessly)’(SOMA, 2006) and 'Jal Gutgi’(SOMA,2007) focused on drawings. Sul has organized exhibitions to introduce Korean artists to the U.S. including 'Crossings 2003, Korea/Hawaii' (East West Centre Gallery, Hawaii, 2003), and Realistive Reality: Korean Media Art Today (Walsh Gallery, U.S., 2003).