“Sculpture is an act of revealing the pre-existent form hidden in the given material”

안정희 기자l승인2021.12.22l수정2021.12.22 10:59






▲ Sculptor Minae Sung (aka Geumran)


Some say great artists are born. Others say great artists are trained. Whichever side we back up, there is one thing we all might agree: in the artistic world, there is a calling. Nobody knows when, where and how the calling is revealed but they instinctively know when it is made. They follow this calling bravely and never turn back.  


“It just happened like ‘this is it’. Yes, the connection between stones and I seemed to be destined and no matter what I did, I always have landed around them” looks back sculptor Minae Sung. 


Since young, she traveled overseas a lot and came across new cultures. She enjoyed taking photos, making pottery by hand and frequented art exhibitions with support of her father. When she decided to do painting, her body reacted to chemical substances in the paints. The next option was to do making something with clay and paper from which she grew serious interest in sculpture. During the course of mingling with sculptors, she was much drawn to the charm of stone and accepted it like her destiny as her father had a great pleasure in sculpting stones. 


[Stones As Materials]

In order for a sculptor to make a work, choosing a material sometimes can be decisive. The artist should think hard what material can better express the artist’s message through the completed work. From a long time ago in history of art, many sculptors used stones of the region as they were in the immediate vicinity around them. Greek and Roman sculptors of Gods and Goddesses, for example, used marble easily found in and around the region. Haetae and Dol Hareubang are another good example of Koreans using natural stones for statues. But the stone sculptor Sung is using is rather unusual: red clay stone. It is found in time accumulated bedrocks and its colors respond differently how you carve and grind. 


“I feel the stone emits good energy. It might sound strange but a group visitor to my booth at an exhibition in BEXCO, Busan, lingered there for a long time and I asked why. They introduced themselves as ‘kee chaezo (energy stretching)’ group and said that they felt good energy around there. It was a surprise that I was not alone who felt the energy and we talked a bit and they bought a work.”


Some say that stone carving is not only an act of carving the stone into a desired shape but an act of revealing the pre-existent form hidden in the material. And Sung has been faithfully following this insight.


“Touching the stone arouses in me a strange yet mysterious feeling. I can’t help but stroking it as if it is a living organism. The whole process of carving becomes an act of sharing each other’s feeling and I often feel that I’m not carving the stone but communicating with this unique material on Earth.”


Strange still, those who recognize Sung’s works somehow feel the same energy and liveliness of the stone and some of them even said that they felt a feeling better after watching or stroking the work when they were depressed. 


[Curves and Colors]

Sung takes curves and colors with great care and attention. The colors of red clay stone in particular are what make her works unique as they react differently according to every curve and turn. This can be well presented in her two most famous works <Tears of Oedipus> and <Mount Kumgang>. Simple as they look but the former has a tragic story to tell and the latter also a tragic story about separated families since the Korean War. 


[Fostering Talented Young Sculptors]

Apart from her passion in creating her own works, Sung has been engaging in fostering talented young sculptors for 25 years. Her teaching, as much as her works, is unique: she uses the whole course of carving stones and completing a work as a process to ease mental and psychological wound of students; and for this she plays the role of a mentor.     Sung is now developing her idea of creating a space where fellow artists gather together and share insights. <PowerKorea>

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안정희 기자  honesty5835@naver.com
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