(1965 – 2021), South Korea

Sung-Hun Kong Biography

Gong Sung-Hun has a unique career, having graduated from the department of Painting at Seoul National University in 1987, studied in the Electronic Engineering Department in Seoul National University of Science and Technology, and then matriculating in the graduate program in Painting in his Alma Mater. He became an icon amongst young artist since graduation, introducing works that criticize the reality in which contemporary art is distributed as an institution in his video, multi-slide project, and various forms of installation productions. His experience in the engineering school, he notes, helped him acquire an objective stand point that distances himself from art. However, after moving to a vinyl greenhouse nearby Byukjae crematory due to financial difficulties brought forth by the foreign exchange crisis in 1997, he had to commute for over five hours a day to Yong-in. This experience deepened his understanding of the social system that destabilizes the foundations of people’s “personal lives.”

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Those who have once committed to the allure of painting cannot leave it behind, even after exploring other mediums. Gong is no exception, which is why his works since 2000 focus on traditional painting, which can project his own thoughts and feelings more effectively. The medium has changed, but his paintings still retain the strong and stimulating hues and uncanny impressions of primary colors we had seen in his earlier works. His productions in the early 2000s were centered on “dogs” or “suburban cityscapes in the night time,” which were common elements found around his studio in Byukjae. These series convey a sense of chilling uncanniness. The
pieces make the viewers feel as if they are facing a wild wolf, perhaps because of the eyes of the dog glaring out of the barren and dark surroundings; meanwhile, the trimmed, slick and deep hues of the canvas catalyze a primary sensation of joy. Gong later moved his studio to Ilsan, whence he began to paint scenes in daylight. Also, of late, he has been painting landscapes in regions such as Chulwon, Ulsan, Ullungdo, and Jeju Ocean. The uncanny feeling that arises from the flashing lights and exaggerated, artificially arranged primary colors have become signature marks of his artistic portfolio.

Despite the transitions in the surficial mediums, his works are uniformly based on the reality we live in. His recent works depict “anxiety” as a common sentiment that runs through contemporary
Korean society, delivered through the grandeur of Nature. His pieces capture the barrenness of winter landscape and the striking solitude of mankind. The magnificence and melancholy of the natural environment amplify the dramatic effect, colored in exaggerated hues. Gong attempts to express the desire and vanity of our species along with the sensitivity of our lives, standing at the intersection of the common and the regular. The ‘sceneries in his works digress from the sublime in traditional Western landscapes. His works, which convert the natural environment into paintings with countless implications, and remind the viewers of the cause and effect surrounding ominous events that may happen or may have already happened in our own lives, generate a mysterious beauty coupled with the tremor that resembles one’s response to a thriller film.

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