Finding one’s true talent and making a success

안정희 기자l승인2018.06.14l수정2018.06.14 10:18

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▲ Seogak artist Choi Shin-hee (aka Daesan)

Finding who I am
It was quite a surprise to many of his colleagues that Choi turned his title to a seogak (wood letter and picture carving) artist from a skilled worker at Hyundai Construction Equipment in Ulsan City. One of his friends led him to the world of seogak in which he instantly fell in love with it and he learned hard under the instruction of his teacher Kim Hak-ryeol (aka Dohyun) who has walked the single path for more than 20 years. “He undoubtedly is one of the master seogak artists in Ulsan City and I learned a lot about the art from holding a knife to various methods of carving letters and pictures on a wood board. Without his unsparing support, and my wife’s consent, of course, I wouldn’t have been as happy as I am today” says Choi. Compared to his peers, Choi joined the world of seogak rather in his later age but this in fact has been the driving force behind his zeal. 

80 works created after work and weekends
Choi borrowed his theme from Korean literary paintings commonly enjoyed by nobles and scholars during the Joseon Dynasty era whose main subjects were flowers, plants and animals accompanied by a poem. “Modern seogak, however, is freer than before in terms of its forms. I think I’m in somewhere between the tradition and the modern with a little bit more inclination to the former. Though I borrow the theme from the traditional literary paintings, I express my moment’s sentiment into works.” Thus created were 80 works of his passion most done after work and weekends since he still keeps his expertise in construction and machinery. It is interesting to know that his father and oldest brother used to be carpenters and older brother a calligrapher; therefore, we can guess that it might have been in his gene. “One good thing about seogak is that it makes me forget all those trivial thoughts and worries as long as I’m concentrating.” 

Exhibitions and winnings
Choi won the grand prize (Busan Mayor’s prize) at the 33rd Korea Art Awards Exhibition and a couple of excellent prizes at an invitation exhibition in Normandy, France and another invitational exhibition in Beijing, China in 2015. “I displayed my work ‘Dokdo, Our Land’ at the exhibition in France in order to spread the fact that the islands are a Korean territory; and I was glad that my intention and effort were well received.” 

Solo exhibition and future plans
He held his special solo exhibition in a space of his company in 2015 and shared a greater part of his art world with his somewhat surprised and curious colleagues; and he and his works were praised by them with many wows. “The exhibition cemented that I was on the right track on which I would never look back and never regret. I was much flattered but I took it as of their sincere compliment and encouragement.” When asked about his future plan, Choi said “I’m planning to run a workshop and a gallery café after retiring where artists and normal people alike come and visit to share and to rest their body and soul for a while.”

   
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