Bong-Kyu Ahn, Korean (1938 - )

O Jung was born in the year 1938 in a small farm-town in Choong-Nam County, Korea. Enrolling in the Surabul Art College, Seoul in 1958 he studied privately under well-known artists including So Jung, Bun Kwan Shik, from whom he learned the basic techniques of Oriental Painting. Several of his paintings were accepted by the National Contest Exhibition and he taught high school in Korea. O Jung took part in many collective exhibitions and had a dozen one-man shows in Korea and abroad. In 1973 he was one of 13 artists invited to the Bando Gallery in Seoul for its exhibition of Western and Oriental painting in Korea. Three years later he was teaching at Choong-Ang University. He became interested in plants and began to paint most kinds of flowers. He started to exhibit his favorite themes: persimmons, banana plants, and water lillies in 1978. He painted persimmons in many forms not limited to realism but extending into platicism and abstraction.

O Jung was chosen as a member of the Korean Artists Association in 1977 and belonged to a committee responsible for accepting works for its exhibitions. The first time his work was introduced through one of its shows was in 1977 in Japan for Asian Artists. He was sent to the show as a representative of Korea. In 1979 his work was sent to Venezuela for exhibition. O Jung wanted to expand his artistic world internationally and for this reason he traveled to many countries in both Asia and Europe. He also took part in a group exhibition in 1980 with artists from Korea, China, and Japan and had one-man exhibitions in Arabia and New York. In 1984 he traveled to San Francisco for another one-man show and in the same year was given a solo exhibition by the National Museum in Sweden. In 1995 he began to paint large scale paintings during a stay in New York as a distinguished professor at Mercy College, however, his interest in the small world never went away. It is also during this stay the O Jung invented the technique of Woodcarved painting. He continues to experiment with forms and techniques in order to widen his diversity and range of esthetical and emotional experiences.

Woodcarved Painting

O Jung begins with a sheet of wood and carves out his desired object’s shape in it in order to get the volume of it. The process is not limited to wood. Any medium, such as stone, can be used. Then it would be called Stonecarved Painting, but the esthetic remains the same. The next step is quite interesting; He fills the impressions with the raw material used for paper production and allows it to dry. When the paper is removed from the wood the result is a raised impression of the object –a sort-of three dimensional paper. He then proceeds to paint over this paper to create the finished painting. In his paintings, volume appears as a symbol, concept, rhythm, or motion whose effect is increased by his technical brushstrokes. It is in this method that he presents his solution for two-dimensional painting in a three-dimensional world. He had learned to paint from nature and could readily abstract subject matter by virtue of his primary commitment to the landscape and still life –motifs free of the psychological tensions implicit in the human image.

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