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Dream and Rejoice of Silver Wings

2022. 8. 24 – 2023. 2. 26
TaiJung Um

Front: Scent of Steel, 2020, copper, steel, 108(h)x200(w)x100(d)㎝ ⓒ 2022 Taijung Um Back: Mandala – Holding the Scent of Time I, II, III, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 145(h)x145(w)㎝ each (3pcs) ⓒ 2022 Taijung Um

ARARIO MUSEUM in SPACE (Seoul, Korea) is proud to present Dream and Rejoice of Silver Wings, the solo exhibition of TaiJung Um(b. 1938), from August 24, 2022 to February 26, 2023. This exhibition presents Um’s most recent works, as well as never before seen pieces made in his formative years (1960s), two-dimensional works, drawings and works from the 1970s and 80s.

Taijung Um became fascinated by the materiality of steel while attending Seoul National University in the 1960s, setting foot into the path of metal sculpting. For more than half a century, he has given himself over to the formal qualities of space and time only through the materiality of metal and contemplation on objects. This artistic behavior brings to mind Constantin Brancusi(1876-1957), who was his spiritual mentor and goal as a sculptor. To Brancusi, sculpting was not simply creating artworks, but a highly spiritual practice and time of meditation to attain genuine truth- his life itself. Even for Um, who was deeply mesmerized by Brancusi, sculpting is a process of contemplating objects and approaching its inherent essence while discovering and realizing one’s true self(‘stranger’). And due to Um’s artistic respect, his sculptural language naturally became abstract rather than representing objects, thus figurative.

Energy No.3, 1971/2021, bronze, work: 92(h)x210(w)x40(d)cm, pedestal: 30(h)x90(w)x40(d)㎝ ⓒ 2022 Taijung Um

Since the 2000s, Um’s sculptures are tranquil, poetic and gentle. His sculptures are peaceful and orderly, infinitely and freely embracing their surroundings while submerging inside, obliterating the perception that metal is solid, cold and heavy. Yet the weight fully packed within the sculptures demonstrates that the unrestrictedness is never light and innocent passion and strength are implicit. However his works from the 1970s are quite in contrast with Um’s recent works. Outdoor sculpture < Energy No. 3 >(1971/2021) evokes a kind of tension and seems to release intense energy with its smooth copper surface opposed to the rough internal texture. Considering his sculpture as result of the reflection of his life itself, wouldn’t the struggles sensed in young Um’s copper works from the 1970s reach a certain level of ripeness today after going through endless anguish and artistic introspection from his journey of around 55 years including his < Heaven, Earth, and Human > series from the 1980s and 90s, the < Bronze-Object-Age > series from the 1990s and aluminum works from the 2000s?

Dream and Rejoice of Silver Wings, 2022, aluminum, steel, 250(h)x106(w)x200(d)㎝ ⓒ 2022 Taijung Um

His recent work < Dream and Rejoice of Silver Wings >(2022) is composed of two steel oval rings inserted vertically and horizontally between two long rectangular aluminum panels. According to the artist, the two aluminum panels are the silver wings of the ‘stranger’. The sun and moon orbit in the infinite space stretching out between the silver wings. This space is a space of beautiful spiritual energy, harboring both day and night. The ‘stranger’ invites shadows for a walk during the day, and throws feasts and dances while twinkling in the stars during the night. The ‘stranger’ who descended with its silver wings fully spread, dreams while giving us the full pleasure of healing and rejoices the soul. The work goes beyond the physical realm and invites the viewers to a time and space of healing which the artist ceaselessly pursues. The viewers become ‘strangers’ themselves and experience a time of healing for contemplation and enlightenment.

The artist, in his 80s, still spends most of his time in his studio. It may seem like a very normal life no different from yesterday to others, but to Um every day is a ‘repetition with a difference’. The same goes for his drawings. The process of filling in small squares at a designated time every day, putting subtle differences in its colors and shapes, is a rich repetition fulfilling the artist internally. It provides him with unbearable pleasure as he gets closer to the truth of all universal creation, the mandala.

The Stranger’s Rest, 1975, copper, 50(h)x115(w)x50(d)㎝ ⓒ 2022 Taijung Um

3, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
+ 82 2 736 5700