Spreading the feminine delicacy and beauty of seogak art

신태섭 기자l승인2019.09.23l수정2019.09.23 10:02

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▲ Artist Heegyeong Gwon

Synthetic art is an artistic act of creation through combination of various artistic elements. Some people include the play and the film in the category of synthetic art. In the Korean art world, seogak (carving letters and images on the wood) is regarded as a synthetic art because it involves calligraphy, drawing and carving. 

For this reason it is rare for a seogak artist to reach the master’s level especially when it comes to women artists. Yet Seogak artist Heegyeong Gwon broke the prejudice and proved herself to be a master seogak artist with her unique sense of femininity yet manly strength of lines.  

Seogak requires physical strength, keen eye and dexterity on using the knives, hammers and chisels. A moment’s distraction can cause a mistake and ruins the whole work. Seemingly easy for ordinary people, every line, curve and depth is melted with enormous time, effort and passion of the carver. So we might better show our respect to the sweats the carver oozed during the whole painstaking process. 

Gwon, also known as Yeona, is 170cm tall and handsome at first sight but calm, warm and delicate when getting to know more of her. These of her characters are well mixed and balanced and expressed in her works. If the works of her teacher Juyeon Kim (aka Hosan) are full of strength, the works of Gwon are delicate and feminine. We might feel a calm morning lake when appreciating her works for a long time.

Her nick name Yeona means ‘beautiful as a pond’. Her teacher Kim once said “Gwon is elegant and has indeed a beauty like a pond that recovers its stillness even after the storm of ripples. Her calmness is well presented throughout her works.”

When asked about the charm of calligraphy, Gwon said “It is truly charming when the ink slowly permeates the Korean paper which words are not enough to express the feeling.”

“If calligraphy is two dimensions, however, seogak is three dimensions realized through various tools and it involves not only the physical strength but also the mental strength as well as the delicacy of the heart. I’m eager for calligraphy when carving and eager for carving when calligraphying.”

Gwon started calligraphy in her middle school years and expanded her scope to clay, drawing and crafts. Making the most of her talents, she now is planning to create a unique seogak work by combing the elements of all these art genres. 

In 2008, she was invited to the Korea Hwahongsea Paintings and Calligraphy Competition and in 2011 won the grand prize at the same competition. She is an invitational seogak artist of the Korea New Millennium Literary Painting Exhibition, of the Korea Calligraphy Art Exhibition, of the Korea Traditional Crafts Exhibition and of the Grand Art Exhibition of Korea in the seogak category. She also won a culture, sports and tourism minister’s prize and displayed her works at the Korea-China-Japan Oriental Calligraphy Exhibition. 

She has held or participated in more than 200 exhibitions and holds every year more than 6 solo, group and invitational exhibitions. April next year, she is scheduled to hold a solo exhibition at the Seoul Arts Center. 

   
 

신태섭 기자  tss79@naver.com
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