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Carving in, Modeling out

MOON Shin, GWON Osang

Installation view_MOON Shin GWON Osang_Carving in Modeling out_ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL 1F

ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL presents the joint exhibition titled Carving in, Modeling out featuring sculptors MOON Shin (1922-1995) and GWON Osang (b. 1974). This exhibition delves into the attitudes of two sculptors towards the materiality and spatiality of sculpture, showcasing selected pieces that highlight their distinctive approaches. Moon Shin, a trailblazer since the 1960s, is celebrated for his innovative and pioneering contributions to the medium and form within the history of Korean sculpture. On the other hand, GWON Osang, active since the 1990s, is recognized for his fresh and experimental works, notably his use of photography in creating lightweight sculptures. The exhibit presents a range of Moon Shin’s sculptures and drawings from the 1970s through the 1990s, alongside recent sculptures by GWON Osang that are marked by diverse material and formal explorations.

Installation view_MOON Shin GWON Osang_Carving in Modeling out_ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL B1F

Rather than presenting the works of the two artists separately in chronological order, the exhibition mixes their works naturally across three themed exhibition spaces. This method emphasizes their passionate experimental spirit and willingness to challenge across different eras. Furthermore, GWON Osang has created special works for this exhibition that reinterpret and pay homage to MOON Shin’s works, moving beyond merely listing the works of the two sculptors to showcasing their interaction. The primary reason for linking these artists is their common focus on sculptural research through form construction and experimentation with various materials, which prominently characterizes both sculptors.

문신 MOON Shin, 무제 Untitled, 1979, 브론즈 Bronze, 41 x 21 x 84.5(h) cm

MOON Shin, who transitioned from being a painter to a sculptor, focused on a sculptural approach that involved arranging and constructing minimal sculptural units rather than representing specific forms or images. MOON’s abstract sculptures resulted in unique forms featuring organic shapes that evoke living organisms or distinctive curves that express his inherent rhythm. Notably, his sculptures often balance subtly between symmetry and asymmetry, creating a tension and emphasizing frontality, with perfect surface treatments being one of the delights of observing MOON’s sculptures. Beyond the uniqueness of form construction, MOON was pioneering in his use of materials and methods, where he often built basic frameworks with wire or metal mesh, overlaying these with plaster that he could carve, or shaping forms from flat, sawn wood rather than from solid logs. This innovative approach involved constant experimentation with various materials and techniques. MOON’s drawings, which are also an important part of his oeuvre, captivate viewers with their organic beauty through the dynamic interplay and expansion of the most basic sculptural forms such as circles and lines. This exhibition highlights MOON’s works from the 1970s along with sculptures that were created from the late 1980s to the 1990s.

권오상 GWON Osang, Wind Hole Relief, 2024, 아카이벌 피그먼트 프린트, 혼합매체 Archival pigment print, mixed media, 29 x 5 x 37.5(h) cm 

Another artist, GWON Osang, emerged in the late 1990s with his innovative approach to lightweight sculpture. GWON experimented and introduced his Deodorant Type series, which are also called photo sculptures, where he carved shapes from isopink, then attached photographs and added a coating to create the final surface. This approach not only challenged the identity of sculpture but also provided a clear visual alternative, garnering immediate attention upon its introduction. GWON has continuously presented various sculptural and technical studies. In this exhibition, not only are new abstract photo sculptures introduced, but existing photo sculptures are also expanded and for the first time, these works in the forms of busts and full figures have been reinterpreted in bronze, a material typically associated with traditional sculpture. Additionally, an expanded version of his three-dimensional photo sculptures is presented in relief, emphasizing one side of the sculpture. This series, which the artist describes as depicting the flow of air, prominently features holes that connect the interior and exterior of the sculpture, creating a unique and varied spatial sense. These holes in the sculptures reflect the artist’s contemplation on creating small, enclosed spaces within the sculptures themselves.

권오상 GWON Osang, Composition, 2024, 아카이벌 피그먼트 프린트, 혼합매체 Archival pigment print, mixed media, 86 x 50 x 72(h) cm

The exhibition takes place across three floors of the gallery. The basement space shows MOON Shin’s drawings from the 1970s alongside his sculptures made of ebony, bronze, and stainless steel from the late 1980s and 1990s. This same space also presents GWON Osang’s new abstract photo sculptures and his bronze busts and full-figure sculptures for the first time. The works of both artists are intermingled, showcasing their intensive explorations of various materials and techniques. In the first floor space, two of MOON’s stainless steel sculptures are exhibited. These works demonstrate the characteristic frontality and are designed to reflect their surroundings and have the unique ability to draw the surrounding space into the sculpture itself, encapsulating it within their forms. Accompanying these are two significant sculptures by GWON Osang. Particularly noteworthy is an enlarged and produced work of one of MOON’s sculptures that carries GWON’s reinterpretation on the aesthetics of MOON’s reflective stainless steel sculpture into photo sculptures. Another work by GWON is a 5 meter wide relief photo sculpture which delves into the artist’s contemplation on the use of holes in his sculptures.

Installation view_MOON Shin GWON Osang_Carving in Modeling out_ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL 3F 

Finally, the third floor space presents works that envision ‘sculptures that humans can live in’. These were conceptualized by MOON in the 1960s as he contemplated the relationship between sculpture and architecture. The ChangwonCity Masan MoonShin Art Museum serves as the most appropriate example of this concept and sculptures that humans can live in were rarely realized in MOON’s actual sculptural works and predominantly exists in his drawings. GWON has also recently introduces a series of sculptural furniture that can be used by humans, and this exhibition features sofas and lighting from this series. This space provides an opportunity to see how MOON’s thoughts on sculptures that humans can inhabit are reinterpreted by GWON into usable sculptural objects, examining how these ideas transform within an expanded spatial context that influences the surrounding environment.

85 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea 03058