b. 1943, South Korea

Song Burnsoo Biography

South Korean artist Song Burnsoo expertly weaves narratives of history and violence through his use of contrast and shadow in tapestry.

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Life

Song Burnsoo was born in Gongju, South Korea in 1943. He received his BFA in 1965 from Hongik University, Seoul, where he went on to complete an MFA in 1974. Song briefly relocated to Paris in 1977 to study lithography. He returned to South Korea and worked as a professor of fine arts at Hongik University between 1980–2008, leading the Graduate School of Design. Song has worked at museums in South Korea, in particular the Daejeon Museum of Art and the Maga Art Museum.

Song Burnsoo Artworks

Early work

Song began his artistic practice through printmaking. Influenced by artistic movements and the sociopolitical conditions of the 1960s such as modernism and the backdrop of the Cold War, he approached his work with a pop art tone, yet often remarked on historical events and contemporary news.

Song has previously created work in response to the division of Korea, as seen in his work Consultation of General Rule about Unification of Korea (1972). One of his pieces from 1974, Take Cover is a series of five busts of a figure wearing a gas mask in different vibrant colours, commenting on a violent and unsafe culture. This serigraph is a testament to the artist's political convictions during this unstable period.

Tapestries

In the 80s, Song shifted his practice into working primarily with tapestries. During this time, he was drawn to Catholic iconography such as the cross and crown of thorns as symbols for atonement and passion. In Self of Wrath (1996), Song weaves a greyscale image of thorns and their dramatic shadows, creating an eerie depiction that incites a feeling of unease.

Song's tapestries still maintain his urgent voice towards historical events and violence. His work The Letter from Iraq (2004) is a melancholic greyscale tapestry covered mostly in shadows while blood appears to drip out from the piece's 'puncture wounds'. Another work, 2011.3.11. (2011) is a bold piece featuring what seems to be shards of wood breaking and exploding at its centre. The work, featuring only two colours (blue and red), references the mass destruction caused by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

While not always directly referencing religion, Song has also created a body of work that has a clear religious tone. In 2002, he was commissioned to create a piece for an altar in a Catholic church. Unfinished Diadem (2002) can be found at the Neungpyeong Cathedral in Gwangju and is the only tapestry to adorn an altar in South Korea. This piece centres around the crown of thorns, with Song weaving in theatrical shadows emerging from the object.

Exhibitions

Song Burnsoo has held solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Garboushian Gallery, Los Angeles; Stockholm Cultural Center; and Youngeun Museum of Contemporary Art, Gwangju. His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; and Museum Alexander Koenig, Bonn.

Arianna Mercado | Ocula | 2022

Song Burnsoo
featured artworks

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Possibility #21BS082 by Song Burnsoo contemporary artwork painting
Song Burnsoo Possibility #21BS082, 2021 Object painting
50 x 42 x 6 cm (incl frame)
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Possibility 022-KI by Song Burnsoo contemporary artwork painting
Song Burnsoo Possibility 022-KI, 2022 Object painting
100 x 80 x 8.5 cm
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Possibility 024-EIX by Song Burnsoo contemporary artwork painting
Song Burnsoo Possibility 024-EIX, 2024 Object painting
45.5 x 38 x 4.5 cm
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Possibility 024-EVI by Song Burnsoo contemporary artwork painting
Song Burnsoo Possibility 024-EVI, 2024 Object painting
45.5 x 38 x 4.5 cm
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Possibility 024-EII by Song Burnsoo contemporary artwork painting
Song Burnsoo Possibility 024-EII, 2024 Object painting
45.5 x 38 x 4.5 cm
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Possibility 024-EI by Song Burnsoo contemporary artwork painting
Song Burnsoo Possibility 024-EI, 2024 Object painting
45.5 x 38 x 4.5 cm
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Possibility 023-CII, CIII, CIV by Song Burnsoo contemporary artwork painting
Song Burnsoo Possibility 023-CII, CIII, CIV, 2023 Object painting
100 x 80.5 x 8.5 cm
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Possibility 022-VII by Song Burnsoo contemporary artwork painting
Song Burnsoo Possibility 022-VII, 2022 object painting
130.3 x 91.4 x 11.5 cm
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