Song Burnsoo: Know Yourself

23 August - 24 September 2022
Installation Views
Press release
Gallery Baton is pleased to announce, Know Yourself, a solo exhibition by Song Burnsoo (b.1943) who has been dedicating himself over a half century to figure the unique identity of Korean contemporary art from the 23rd of August to the 24th September. Song Burnsoo, who has been a leading figure of Korean modernism and avant-garde featuring his own practice by encompassing a wide range of art, presents a number of new works based on the motif of the ‘thorn’ in his first solo exhibition with Baton, and highlights his own formative aesthetics through a lifelong investigation in a different track from Danaekhwa: Korean Monochrome Painting, which was the dominant trend in Korea.

After receiving his BFA in the department of crafts at Hongik University, Song began his career as an artist in prints. Pantomime series describing images of a key and a vacuum tube and Take Cover (1974) presenting the beginning of Korean Pop-art highlighted his early artistic practice. Following his participation at the 7th Paris Biennale (1971) and honored the grand-prix at the 2nd Seoul International Print Biennale, intense use of primary colors and the experimental attempt along with elaborateness that seems like photography. The tapestry, which began in 1980 when he was a professor of textile arts at Hongik University, became a catalyst that drew popular acclaim and critical distinction of his artistic practice. Works that combine titles that reflect personal experiences and have a vision effect on objects with sophisticated weaving, not just the level of depicting objects, are still considered his representative style. Winning the first golden fleece prize at On the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of the foundation of the Hungarian State (2001) was a monumental achievement, and his status as a tapestry artist was internationally recognized.

The motif of ‘thorn’ is concretized gradually from the mid-1970 after his studying in Paris. Starting to describe roses with distinctive sharp thorns in prints, the thorn becomes the persona of Song as he deeply engaged in a spiritual reflection through the ups and downs of life. The thorn conceived in Christ’s crown of thorns gradually features into an iconographic metaphor of wars, social conflicts and exhaustion representing the irony of the harsh reality and the hope that exists in it. “The thorn has become both a religion and art as my life. After all, It is all about me.” This quote evidently presents the symbolism of the thorn in his artistic practice.

In recent years, extending every further on the symbolism given to the ‘thorn’, Song took a new approach on the value of thorn to reproduce individual units of planets, constellations, and their clusters as objects. Mesmerized by the night sky full of stars over his studio in the forest, the artist realizes that the expression of stars featured as “twinkle" is similar to the sharpness of the tip of a thorn in a clear shape. The primary-colored canvas, capturing stars that have flown in and emerged over the infinite time in a vast cosmic arena, gives a deep reflection as the master’s monologue who witnessed the wonders of the world in mind.

Song Burnsoo lives and works in Yongin, Korea. He was a professor of College of Fine Arts at Hongik University from 1980 to 2008 and a director of Daejeon Museum of Art. Currently he is an honorary professor at Hongik University and a director of the Maga Art Museum, which was established in 1998 to support young artists of textile crafts. In 2000, he received the decorated the Order of National Service Merit in Korea and in 2001, he won the first golden fleece prize at On the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of the foundation of the Hungarian State. Along with the large-scale retrospective, Song Burnsoo_Pantomime of 50 Years in National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, his work has been featured in exhibitions in Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art (2016), Museum of Fine Arts Budapest (2005), MMCA Korea (2003), Daejeon Museum of Art (2000), Busan Museum of Art (1999), Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (1987). His work is represented in the collections of MMCA Korea, Seoul Museum of Art, Busan Museum of Art, Daejeon Museum of Art, National Museum of Budapest and H.Q of Korean U.N., Switzerland.