Photography in Korea:
Enjoying the Freedom of Visual Language
SPECIAL FEATURE Kang Woon-gu; Won Seoung-won; Gwon O-sang

Kang Woon-gu

The Artist on His Work
I have a deep interest in this country. It is where I was born; where I have lived up to now; and where I will continue to stay. This land is my fate. My love for and exploration of the country naturally extends to its people and the lives they have experienced. My eyes do not drift to the particular. Instead, they fall on common things, searching for the source of their inner beauty and meaning. In the eyes of visitors, the country may seem exotic, the same way the landscape of foreign lands is exotic to me. When it transformed from an agricultural to an industrial society, time suddenly began to accelerate. In the process, the common landscape became unfamiliar. As a photographer of this land, I now consider my “service” to be over. Having reached this point, I am having more fun taking pictures.


· Born in 1941 in Mungyeong, North Gyeongsang Province
· BA in English Literature, Kyungpook National University
· Worked as a photographer for the daily newspapers Chosun Ilbo and Dong-A Ilbo
· Solo exhibitions “Village: A Trilogy” (Kumho Museum of Art, Seoul, 2001); “Vintage Landscapes: Royal Graves, Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms, and Mt. Nam in Gyeongju” (GoEun Museum of Photography, Busan, 2011); “Mt. Nam in Gyeongju: Black and White” (Ryugaheon, Seoul, 2016); “Four Edges Shadow” (Museum of Photography, Seoul, 2017)
· Group exhibitions “Photography Today” (Artsonjae Museum, Gyeongju, 1995); “Our Cultural Heritage: From Today’s Perspective” (Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, 1997); “Early Dawn” (HowArt Gallery, Seoul, 2001)
· Kang has written books and monographs, including “Essays on Photography” (Youlhwadang, 2010); “Vintage Landscapes: Royal Graves, Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms, and Mt. Nam in Gyeongju” (Youlhwadang, 2011); and “Mt. Nam in Gyeongju: Black and White Edition” (Youlhwadang, 2016).

“Mt. Nam (Namsan) in Gyeongju: Ridges of Yongjang Valley and Three-story Stone Pagoda”
Kang Woon-gu, 1987.© Kang Woon-gu

Won Seoung-won

The Artist on Her Work
My works can be described as photo installations. I take countless pictures while traveling all over the world, then edit them on the computer to create a montage of disparate images from different places and times. Combined through a highly elaborate and meticulous process, the discontinuous objects and fragments of space create an aura of fantasy. An admixture of reality and imagination, my works are digital in execution but analog in nature, stirring up nostalgia and presenting diverse narratives. Through my collages, I seek to address the serious and profound themes of humans and society in a witty way.


· Born in 1972 in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province
· BFA in Sculpture, Chung-Ang University
· Attended the Düsseldorf Art Academy (Kunstakademie Düsseldorf) and the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne (Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln)
· Solo exhibitions “My Age of Seven in 1978” (Gana Contemporary, Seoul, 2010); “Character Episode I” (Artside Gallery, Seoul, 2013); “Sceptical Orgy” (Podbielski Contemporary, Berlin, 2014); “The Sight of the Others” (Arario Gallery Seoul, 2017)
· Her works are exhibited at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the Seoul Museum of Art in Korea, the Mori Art Museum in Japan, the Osthaus Museum in Germany, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in the U.S.

“My Age of Seven: The Sea in My Mom’s Hometown”
Won Seoung-won, 2010. C-print, 125 × 195 cm.

1 “My Age of Seven: Seagulls and a Blossoming Pear Tree” Won Seoung-won, 2010.
C-print, 125 × 195 cm.
2 “The Water-grass Network of IT Specialists” Won Seoung-won, 2017. C-print, 178 x 297 cm.

Gwon O-sang

“Blouson & Albino”
Gwon O-sang, 2016. C-print, mixed media, 195 × 47 × 125 cm.

The Artist on His Work
My work differs a little from traditional photography. First, I take photographs of a model from head to toe, section by section, from diverse angles. I carve a life-size statue in Isopink (extruded polystyrene foam) and attach the photographs onto it one by one. In 1998, when I released “Deodorant Type,” produced in this method, people called it a “photo-sculpture.” I always wondered, “Why should a sculpture be so heavy, carved from stone or molded in bronze?” I wanted to make something light, veering away from conventional sculpting techniques, so I decided to combine photography and sculpture. From then on, my fundamental question as an artist has been: What is sculpture? How can I present it in a progressive way?

· Born in 1974 in Seoul
· BFA and MFA in Sculpture, Hongik University
· Group exhibitions “Peppermint Candy: Contemporary Art from Korea” (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Santiago, Chile, 2007; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2008; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, Korea, 2009); “Aspects of Korean Contemporary Photography: 1999-2008” (National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, 2010); “Tech 4 Change” (Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium, Norway, 2015)
· Solo exhibitions “New Structure and Relief” (Arario Gallery Seoul, 2016); “The Sculpture” (Arario Gallery Shanghai, 2016)
· His works are in the collections of the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art; the Singapore Art Museum; the Asano Curatorial Institute in Japan; and the Zabludowicz Collection and Universal Music UK in London.

Gwon O-sang, 2012. C-print, mixed media,
207 × 194 × 110 cm.

“New Structure and Relief”
Gwon O-sang, 2016.
(Installed at Seoul ARARIO GALLERY)

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