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Artist Oh Chi-gyun invites people he misses to Oh Museum of Art

By Park Yuna

Published : May 15, 2024 - 15:20

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An installation view of Oh Chi-gyun's persimmon works at the Oh Museum of Art in Seoul (Courtesy of theOh Museum of Art) An installation view of Oh Chi-gyun's persimmon works at the Oh Museum of Art in Seoul (Courtesy of theOh Museum of Art)

The newly opened Oh Museum of Art is located in an alley of small buildings in Gangnam-gu, southern Seoul. The monochrome-colored, rough textured facade of the building, reminiscent of the artist’s paintings, may make it difficult for passersby to spot the museum.

Artist Oh Chi-gyun, 68, renovated the four-story building used as the artist’s studio and office for the past 15 years to create the museum that holds the legacy of his 40 years of artistic practice.

When he bought the building in 2008, it had been used as a kindergarten. Oh transformed the texture of the building to look similar to his paintings which feature a thick layer of acrylic paint.

Oh Chi-gyun's finger paintings are on display at the Oh Museum of Art in Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald) Oh Chi-gyun's finger paintings are on display at the Oh Museum of Art in Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

One of the most popular artists in the commercial art scene in South Korea in the early 2000s -- he was best known for his paintings of persimmons -- his works began to lose favor with collectors as trends and people's taste in art changed.

The unique texture of his paintings derives from “finger painting.” Oh uses his own fingers to paint.

“I was a hot-tempered person. I did not want to use a medium between me and my art,” the artist said, grabbing some finger food on the museum's opening day on April 29. “I prefer using hands instead of utensils, as you see.”

The inaugural exhibition “Glass Drawings in Three Dimension” includes Oh’s recent works made with broken glass, which took guests who were familiar with his painting style by surprise. His last show was a solo exhibition in 2017 at Rho Gallery in Seoul.

Oh Chi-gyun poses for a photo with his glass sculpture on April 29 at the Oh Museum of Art in Seoul. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald) Oh Chi-gyun poses for a photo with his glass sculpture on April 29 at the Oh Museum of Art in Seoul. (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

“I broke so much glass (for the new works),” the artist said. “I thought the broken glass pieces were more beautiful than the glass products themselves. Broken things are beautiful.”

The exhibition includes his “finger paintings” shown on the second and third floors, including those he painted while staying in New York after graduating from Seoul National University. In the basement are the artist’s signature persimmon paintings.

Two exhibitions, "Three Dimensional Paintings on Stone" and "Works with Blocks in Paint Mass," are scheduled to take place this year.

"I want my museum to be a place where people get together and interact through my art. There are many people with whom I have lost touch for many years on the excuse of pursuing art. I miss them," he said.