Beauty and Bojagi: The Art of Wonju Seo


“For me, ‘travel writing’ refers to a process of visualizing virtual landscapes and nature, using textiles as abstract art. ~Wonju Seo

The Pacific Northwest has a vibrant history and movement in art and textile/paper production – much of it coming from artists of Korean descent. Like Jiyoung Chung, Youngmin Lee, and Bella Yongok Kim, innovative artists adorn the creative landscape with exceptionally complex works of unique style and scope. Even the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum in La Conner is currently presenting an exhibit showcasing the best of contemporary Korean quilts by up-and-coming artisans of the craft.

At the Korea Society in New York, the current show, titled Wonju Seo: Travel Diary, Korean-born artist Wonju Seo also goes to the heart of his creations: a myriad of precise techniques and disciplines fashioned to bring the viewer into a world never seen before – that of shapes, forms and cultural perceptions. By showing how art can be more than figurative, the artist shows us that it can also be as abstract as it is emotionally informative.

Born and raised in Seoul, Korea, Seo developed an interest in art at an early age. she enrolled at Hong-Ik University in Seoul, popularly known for its bachelor’s degree programs in art and architecture. After graduating from college, she left college to pursue work as a designer and commercial silk painting artist. Around 1998, she moved to the United States to pursue her full-time career as an artist. Here, she directs her artistic direction more towards a geometric form of abstract art.

Using the ancient form of Korean textile technique called bojagi (“wrapping fabric”), the artist creates a distinct fusion of the traditional and the modern. As she would say, “My teenage life in patriarchal society and my current life in the Western world all became the backdrop for my creative activity.”

Organic, bold and vibrant, Wonju Seo’s work can be seen as experimental, abstract or continuous, depending on his own interpretation – nevertheless, it is certainly a delight to bestow upon the eyes of the conscious viewer. When entering the event space of the organization, Wrapped in Blessings, 2018is seen as intricately wrapped boxes layered with embroidered silk textiles, shown expressively in colors ranging from rosy red to dark gray – easily reminiscent of the patterns usually seen on circus costumes, particularly that of the Harlequin, the comic servant character of the Italian commedia dell’arte.

Seo’s connection to Korean tradition and community has always been important to her. growing up in Korea and studying women’s history and textile design, the artist created these pieces with this artistic inspiration in mind. Working meticulously by hand and giving her a full understanding of the process, the experience made it all the more vital for her when it came time to produce art on a large scale.

The book, titled Contemporary silk bojagi, 2020, exhibits such painstaking, painstaking precision, as if starting from the middle of the space and working outward, like a Piet Mondrian painting blossoming into full activity. By observing each of these textile “squares” very closely, one can see the intricate yet unusual patterns, colors and shapes that would serve as inspiration and continuation for his vast body of work.

Featured in the Gallery section, Through my window: ocean, sky and wind, 2021 is both fascinating and breathtaking to see this wonder first hand. Meticulously crafted with alcohol ink, paper, Korean silk, and photography, it begins with solid panels in rectangular shapes, moving inward and outward with splashes of color. : green, blue and red. Like a seaweed in its appearance, the colors merge with the shapes: abstract yet linear, the specks and stains optically accumulate, creating shades of transparency and light – like looking through multiple windows into the beyond , constantly expanding with every move, becoming otherworldly and quite expressive.

Innovative creations, such as his “Map Drawing” (cotton thread work) and “White Wonderland” (origami silk squares) series also hold their own – with the same skill, technique and dedication as the other works featured throughout. along both exposures. the spaces.

Map drawing. Photo courtesy of Wonju Seo.

Essentially, Wonju Seo’s work reflects the importance of how a form can become more than just a form; that it can take form and effort in realms beyond what the eye can see and the hand can produce. Her unique work pushes the viewer into a total and complete state of understanding, seeing and feeling – a conscious roadmap to tradition, direction and cultural identity.

The exhibition will be on view until May 27. The Korean company is located on 350 Madison Avenue in New York.

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