First-generation Korean sculptor Um Tai-jung’s works on view at Arario Gallery

By Shim Woo-hyun
  • Published : Feb 4, 2019 - 11:50
  • Updated : Feb 5, 2019 - 22:06

A total of some 50 works by sculptor Um Tai-jung are being exhibited at both branches of Arario Gallery in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul, and Cheonan, North Chungcheong Province.

Um is one of the nation’s first-generation modern sculptors, who worked exclusively with metals. Born in 1938, Um graduated from the Department of Sculpture in the College of Fine Arts at Seoul National University.

Um also studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London -- possibly one of the first Korean artists who studied fine arts in London, according to the gallery. In 1967, he won the Prime Minister’s Prize at the 16th “National Art Exhibition” with his seminal work “A Scream.” 

An installation view of Um Tai-jung’s exhibition at Arario Gallery’s Samcheong-dong branch (Arario Gallery)

Um’s interest in metals has continued since the 1960s, when he began to devote himself to metal sculptures.

Arario Gallery’s latest exhibitions include Um’s earlier works as well as those produced between 2017 and 2018, commissioned by the gallery in 2017, highlighting the artist’s oeuvre.

The works have been divided into two separate venues.

The exhibition at the Cheonan space consists mainly of the artist’s large sculpture works. The fourth-floor exhibition space in Cheonan displays major steel and copper sculptures produced between 1969 and 2010, such as “Energy 69, No.1” (1969) and the “Bronze-Object-Age” series (1997). His large-scale aluminum works created since the 2000s are displayed on the third floor.

Um Tai-jung poses for pictures beside his 2018 aluminum-steel sculpture “Serene Wall and I,” installed at Arario Gallery’s Cheonan venue. (Arario Gallery)

Meanwhile, Um’s 2D works are being exhibited at the Samcheong-dong branch, along with large- and small-sized metal sculptures. This includes “Crack” (2000-2002), a small-sized drawing series featuring repetitive lines drawn with an ink pen on white paper.

“Um’s drawings -- through drawn on paper -- are in line with his sculpture works in terms of the methodology he uses,” Arario Director Henna Joo said.

“His sculpture making is often accompanied by physically taxing and repeated movements, and he approached his drawings in more or less the same way. In the same way that he polishes and rubs off metals to achieve the color and texture that he wants, he has used repeated and meticulous pen strokes to achieve the texture,” Joo added.

Also on view in the basement-level space at the Samcheong-dong branch are 2D color band pieces, such as “Heaven, Earth, and Human” (2018) and “Endless Column-Mandala” (2018), which show his fascination with Brancusi’s “Endless Tower.”

Um’s works are being exhibited through Feb. 24 at Samcheong-dong, and May 12 at Cheonan. 

By Shim Woo-hyun (