From rough granite to cute animals

By Lee Woo-young

Han Jin-sub presents animal stone sculptures and new approach at solo exhibition

  • Published : Aug 26, 2014 - 20:38
  • Updated : Aug 26, 2014 - 20:38
Stone sculptor Han Jin-sub strikes a lump of granite with a hammer and chisel. A chunk breaks off with a spark and thud that echoes through the space for his solo exhibition.

Part of his art studio has moved to Gana Art Center. Some of the tools and plaster miniature models he has used in stone sculpting for the last 40 years offer a window to an unfamiliar world of stone sculpture.

“It’s like having a conversation with the rock. If I understand the layer and break it, a big chunk cracks off. But if I try to fight with it, I lose. I constantly talk to the rock and see where I should place the chisel on it,” said Han during the press preview of his solo exhibition last week. 
Artist Han Jin-sub poses for a photo at his studio in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province. (Gana Art Center)
“Hogijang” by Han Jin-sub (Gana Art Center)

Han has been sculpting since the 1970s when he was a student at Hongik University of the Arts and at Italian art school Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara. He is one of the few artists who uses stone as a material for sculpture. He said not many students and artists are willing to do stone sculpture because it is difficult and takes so much time.

The sculptures on display at his solo exhibition are cute renditions of creatures, including a tiger, a hippo and a mouse. They resemble stuffed animals with smooth, solid surfaces.

In his first exhibition in seven years, the artist presents his new approach to sculpting. Han cuts a large flat stone into pieces and attaches each piece on a huge model. He came up with the method to overcome logistical problems caused by the weight of the sculptures. 
“0 Ranking” by Han Jin-sub (Gana Art Center)

“One reason was to be able to move the sculpture inside the exhibition space. If it were made of solid stone, it would probably weigh thousands of kilograms and the floor would collapse,” he explained. A small black marble chair from a stone table and chairs set weighs hundreds of kilograms.

But another reason was to enable people to have more stone sculptures inside their homes. Throughout his career, he has tried to make his works accessible to his audience. Instead of banning viewers from touching his work, he invites them to take a seat on his bench sculpture or touch the animal sculptures like they do with stuffed animals at home.

“Stone sculpture is not an important part of the fine art world. People go to painting exhibitions, but not to stone sculpture exhibitions. But I needed to do something about it. So I made my work approachable and something that can be incorporated into everyday life,” said Han.

The exhibition “Blissful Sculpture” runs through Sept. 17 at Gana Art Center. For more information, visit www.ganaart.com.

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