Artist embodies love, longing through sculpture

Courtesy of Zach Brown | Zach Brown Art | Chung's collection, comprised of 13 unique pieces, is available to be purchased by private collectors before the end of the exhibit.

Megan Trotter | News Editor

Korean artist Seuil Chung debuted his third solo exhibition, titled “I Love You,” on Dec. 9 at Concept Art Gallery in Braddock.

The exhibit, recently extended from Feb. 24 to March 16, is a ceramic line of 13 pieces which explore the meaning of innocence and love.

Chung said his inspiration for the theme of the collection came from questioning how to let someone into his life when he was younger.

“I think [love] has shaped me a lot. I think it’s one of the most impactful events in my life,” Chung told The Duke. “It was very natural to people but for some reason it didn’t feel as natural for me to connect with someone.”

Based in Chicago, Chung received a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Studio Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019, and a Master of Fine Art in Ceramics at Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2021.

While teaching in the Ceramics Department at University of Akron in Ohio in 2022, Chung’s art was shown in FRONT International Triennial, where he was discovered by Concept Art Gallery Director, Alison Oehler.

“His work has a humorous quality that I think is really attractive. But it also has sort of a strange kind of otherworldly quality that really draws you in,” Oehler said. “I love his glazes. I think that his color choices are really interesting.”

On opening night, around 60 people visited the gallery to view Chung’s exhibition. Oehler allowed selected potential buyers to preview the show prior to the event, and since opening night almost half of Chung’s ceramic pieces have sold to collectors.

His creative process for “I Love You” began by looking back at sketches from a few years earlier. Chung said he then began to think about form and how they would translate into his theme of love and innocence.

“Overall, I was picturing the show in my head, being like ‘I want these forms to be as diverse as possible,’” Chung said. “I think it was more of an organic process.”

Chung describes his creative approach by doing intuitive drawing and then thinking about the theme later. He felt it was important to have distance between the form and the title or theme.

“I think it can read too literally,” Chung said. “When something becomes too predictable, I think that’s when it’s a little less fun.”

“Narcissist” was built to reflect the form of the Japanese Pokémon character Charmander. Chung said while it does not necessarily have to do with love, he was inspired by the character and tries to keep things loose.

“Stalker” was inspired by a news story in Korea where a stalker was recording the sounds of his neighbor through her front door. According to Seuil Chung’s website, learning of this incident caused him to question the difference between his own personal love and the love of the stalker.

“I think also the media, or the culture really shapes how we think about love, and I don’t know how correct it is and how pure it is,” Chung said.

When entering the Concept Art Gallery, attendees searching for the “I Love You” exhibition must go to the second floor. Each piece is displayed in a blank room on a white stand with a small name tag listing the title, materials, assembly year and price.

While curating the space to reflect Chung’s artistic narrative, Oehler said he requested the room have no didactic explanation.

“We really feel strongly that people should sort of come to their own conclusions about their own reaction,” she said.

To make it differ from previous projects, “I Love You” was the first time Chung began using automotive paint to glaze his ceramics.

“I think for me I just kind of try to stick to ceramics and not incorporate too many materials is a way for me to confine myself in a sense,” Chung said. “Sometimes you get more creative, and you challenge yourself more with the material when you’re limiting yourself with it.”

Unlike any other piece in the exhibit, “I Wish You Were Dead,” features pink sand in the center of the ceramic square.

Chung said that he was about to give up on this piece but made a last-minute decision to help add texture a few days before delivering the collection to Concept Art Gallery.

Growing up, Chung’s parents encouraged his art and took him to art lessons outside of school. Chung said that after the “I Love You” exhibition closes, he hopes to travel more and meet people to promote his work and continue his career.

With the exhibition’s extension until March 16, Concept Art Gallery and Chung plan to host a Zoom talk where Chung will speak about his creative process. Until then, “I Love You” is free to view.