‘Fairytales for adults’

By Lee Woo-young

Artist Park Hyun-woong showcases relief paintings inspired by childhood memories, travels at solo exhibition

  • Published : Apr 29, 2014 - 20:01
  • Updated : Apr 29, 2014 - 20:01
“Cavatina to Copacabana” by Park Hyun-woong. ( Sun Gallery)
Artist Park Hyun-woong’s paintings look more appropriate for a child’s room than a museum. His paintings are pretty. They depict candy, cute elephants and bears, and European castles that little girls dream about. This is why children’s hospitals and Save the Children are among the major collectors of his works.

“Actually my paintings are intended for adults. Every adult has bits of their childhood memories, like elephants they saw at a zoo or travels with parents,” Park said. “My paintings are fairytales for adults.”

His works are a form of relief painting. more specifically, they are sculptures adhered to the flat surface of paintings. 
Park Hyun-woong (Yonhap)

His paintings on display at Sun Gallery in Insa-dong, Seoul, are based on his childhood memories mingled with scenes that caught his eye while traveling alone in Spain at age 40.

Spanish castles and the Alps in Switzerland create a delightful backdrop for a red tram carrying smiling purple bears wearing scarves, a big pink elephant and striped candy. Random objects such as Scandinavian-style plates, short trees and golden paths express bits of his travel memories.

Ordinary items in his paintings pull viewers away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. They take them on a journey to places from their dreams. Cars, trains and trams show up in many of his works, fanning the desire to escape from the troubles of life.

“My work appeals to many senses with both visual and spatial imagery. The images from my memories and recollections are taken from real objects and blended together, creating new images. The small pieces represent our daily lives that make up a bigger relationship,” Park wrote in the exhibition catalogue.

Park, who initially majored in metal design, said he changed his medium to wood as he felt limited in his artistic expression with metal. He now uses hard white birch from Finland and sculpts it into shapes that will constitute images in a painting. He then paints the pieces and glues them to a flat custom-made canvas. The wooden pieces are piled in three to seven layers, making the painting look three-dimensional. With features of both sculpture and painting residing in his work, Park said he’s not sure into which genre he falls.

His paintings are part of collections at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea and the Korea Land and Housing Corporation.

“I hope my works can give hope and joy to those grieving over the tragic ferry incident for a little while. I hope they can find comfort reminiscing about their childhoods,” he added.

His paintings are meant to hold viewers for a longer time. Park planted hidden images such as pencils, hats, boats and more in his paintings. Those who find the hidden images will be given a set of pencils.

The exhibition runs from Wednesday to May 20 at Sun Gallery in Insa-dong, Seoul. For more information, call (02)734-0458.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)