The Korea Herald


Chang Uc-chin remembered at Hyundai Hwarang

By Park Yuna

Published : Jan. 12, 2021 - 15:19

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"Roadside Tree” by Chang Uc-chin (Gallery Hyundai)

Hyundai Hwarang (Gallery Hyundai) hosts a special exhibition in memory of South Korean artist Chang Uc-chin, whose works of modern art are loved by many Koreans for their unique warm-hearted simplicity, reflecting the artist’s own painting style.

Born in 1918, the artist loved folksy subjects such as Korea’s rural scenery, family, magpies and hanok, or traditional Korean houses. Due to his pursuit of simplicity, some say his paintings look like the work of a child. But that simple style was the result of Chang’s struggle to understand himself as an artist.

Chang Uc-chin (Gallery Hyundai) Chang Uc-chin (Gallery Hyundai)

“An artist’s role is to seek out their own art with creativity, and they need to know themselves very well. In order to do so, they need naivete,” he wrote in a book of short prose published in 1976. Chang also used to say “I am simple” when it comes to his paintings.

Chang died unexpectedly in 1990 of an asthma attack.

The exhibition “House, Family, Nature and Chang Ucchin,” which opens Wednesday, sheds light on the artist’s representative paintings. The show of some 50 works focuses on the artist’s main subjects -- home, family and nature -- through which he delivers his philosophy. The home was a shelter that protected the artist and his family, especially during the Korean War. 

“Family” by Chang Uc-chin (Gallery Hyundai) “Family” by Chang Uc-chin (Gallery Hyundai)

“Much of what he said remains deep in my heart, such as, ‘Do not compare yourself to others, seek out your own thing,’ or ‘treat things kindheartedly, then many things will resolve themselves,’” the artist’s daughter Kyeong-soo told The Korea Herald in an interview last year.

Founded as Hyundai Hwarang in 1970 by Park Myung-ja, Gallery Hyundai celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The gallery was a base for many of Korea’s best-known modern artists, including Chang. It was also a place where artists and others in the art world gathered. 

“Face” by Chang Uc-chin (Gallery Hyundai) “Face” by Chang Uc-chin (Gallery Hyundai)

The gallery has held the artist’s exhibitions since 1978, including a special exhibition in 2011 commemorating the 10th anniversary of the artist’s death.

The exhibition is supported by the Chang Ucchin Museum of Art and the Chang Ucchin Art Foundation. It will run through Feb. 28.

By Park Yuna (