1 Jun 2014

Korean artist Seung Yul Oh

From Standing Room Only, 1:45 pm on 1 June 2014

Seung Yul Oh Pokpo Courtesy of the artist and Starkwhite Photographer Max Bellamy
Seung Yul Oh - Pokpo. Image courtesy of the artist and Starkwhite. Photograph by Max Bellamy.

It was in 2005 that Korean-born artist Seung Yul Oh graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts from Elam. No sooner than he set foot into the big wide world, everyone began to take notice. Back then, working out of a shared studio space with other artists, he says, "I couldn't help myself, I had to keep making things... It's like cooking – you make food, you taste it, the next day [you] cook again".

Seung works across a multitude of mediums – video, performance, installation, sculpture – and painting, and says he can't pin-point a favourite... "It depends on the idea".

Moamoa is a collection of works through his steadfast career. "Moamoa means to gather together and in French it’s ‘me, me’...so, this is me-my work".

Seung Yul Oh Oddooki Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Photographer Max Bellamy
Seung Yul Oh - Oddooki. Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Photograph by Max Bellamy.

In the exhibition you'll find family-friendly installations which invite 'physical' interaction  giant sized Oddooki figures – egg-shaped birds that stand 4.5 feet that rock and swivel, and an inflatable 'forest' of yellow and white pillars, plus there's also an opportunity to be part of his project 'The Ability to Blow Themselves Up'. Inspired by reading about puffer fish, he has created balloons which yes... explode in your face. Capturing the vast array of reactions on video makes for intriguing viewing.

In a more subdued and thought-provoking part of the exhibition you'll also find a noodle installation featuring an array of Korean noodle dishes which Seung refers to as 'ghostly’. Noodles are suspended vertically (about 5.5 ft.) in mid-air, draped over floating chopsticks. "I wanted to see a dish without a person", he says.

Regardless of how playful or interactive some of the works are, for Seung it’s purely about the form and the ideas. When asked whether he intentionally draws inspiration from his Korean background – "No... It kinda oozes out when I'm in Korea, [but] I have two cultural references. I feel a bit [of an] outsider… maybe I’m a bit lost. Sometimes I feel confused – where I sit – where I belong". But as far as Seung is concerned, being 'lost' and floating in-between is a good place to be...

Seung Yul Oh Periphery Courtesy of the artist and One and J Gallery Seoul Photographer Max Bellamy
Seung Yul Oh - Periphery. Image courtesy of the artist and One and J Gallery Seoul. Photograph by Max Bellamy.

Listen to the interview