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I Sculpt Sadness

ARTIST INSIDE 2022 | Seongbin Gam

I Sculpt Sadness

Artist Seongbin Gam sculpts sadness. After losing his beloved family, he carved the grief of the rest of his family into wood and soil.
The purpose of his work was to face his despair. Then, he began to see other people’s sadness.
Because of his own painful experiences, his eyes were exposed to other people’s wounds, and he began to carve those as well.
The artist said, “My work has become an expression of pain and sadness, even though it may seem uncomfortable to others.”
This summer, he held a solo exhibition with the theme of “warmth.”
“I was in the midst of sadness, but now I can see the hearts of the people who fondly look at that sadness,” he says.

Perhaps because of the nature of sculptures, the wound is felt more directly. What does sculpture as a genre mean to you?

When I was at my lowest point, I found comforting words overwhelming. I just wanted to be quiet and alone. But with sculpture, I realized I didn’t have to walk away. It just stayed with me. I think it was from then on. I want to make sculptures that are like vessels that contain my emotions. When I sculpted with my heart, the pain faded. Now I want to create warm sculptures that touch the heart.

Seongbin Gam, 감성빈, Hug, 2022, Oil on canvas, resin frame, 45 × 44 cm

Looking at your recent solo exhibition, the theme for 2021 was “drift” and this year was “warmth”. I can feel the change in sentiment.

At the time of your solo exhibition in 2021, the whole society was on edge in the face of the pandemic. It was a time when not only society but also individuals were adrift, not knowing what to do. I had a lot of close acquaintances who were in a lot of trouble, and the exhibition naturally documented that sentiment. This year, things are very different. I’m hoping that after a period of distancing, we’re now bridging the gap with the comfort of each other’s warmth. I think grief is not just about being lonely and hurting. It’s also about feeling sorry for yourself. However, I still want to paint landscapes of sadness because of the humanity of this emotion.

Seongbin Gam, 감성빈, Father, 2022, Oil on resin, wooden pedestal, 18 × 13 × 50 cm

There seems to be a change in the way you work, what is it?

I’ve been focusing on two-dimensional work for a while. I call it ‘sculptural frame painting’. Painting was a learning tool that I started with because I wanted to dress my three-dimensional sculptures well. I imagined the fine texture of the painting coming off and sticking to the surface of the sculpture. I was hooked, so I started painting in oil on canvas and sculpting the molds. I’m incorporating the colors and expressions I’ve learned from painting into the three-dimensional world.  I feel that the sculpture is changing as much as the painting is changing. In my sculptures, I want to capture the very human warmth that I am constantly drawn to.

Seongbin Gam, 감성빈, Hug, 2022, Oil on canvas, resin frame, 40.5 × 40.5 cm

Interview by Heaseung Kang, published on Kiaf 2022 Catalogue