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Joining the graduate course at 70, he says,
“The glory days of my life have only begun now.”
A 73 year-old graduate student held his first-ever private art exhibition. Hong Su-gi, the artist of the exhibition, is enjoying his last semester of the graduate course at SU Graduate School of Integrated Arts.
Under the theme of “Embrace,” this late blooming artist’s works were exhibited in the Planning Exhibition Room at the Sahmyook University Museum from May 20 to May 26. The theme conveyed his wishes to comfort struggling youths in unemployment and economic poverty, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and restore their frustrated and helpless souls. To this end, Hong decided to donate the entire proceeds from the sales of his artworks for the further development of the university.
The exhibition, which was also his graduation exhibition, presented over 40 pieces of his artwork, of which more than half are large size canvas (F 162.2×130.3㎝).
Hong boasts an extraordinary career history of turning from an entrepreneur to an artist. He owned a very successful textile design company from its establishment in Daegu in the 1970s, until he picked up a paint brush. What caught his eyes, while in deep search for the most meaningful activity to pursue after retirement, were the painting tools left in his storage by his son 20 years ago. He figured that it was too late but felt it might be the best time to start.
His late-discovered talent was proven rather exceptional as he won first prize in both the Gangnam Grand Art Competition and the Angyeon Love Grand Art Competition in 2016, only 7 months into his journey as a painter. Since then, Hong has continued receiving prizes in major competitions including the Korea Art International Exhibition, the Gangwon Art Competition, the Gyeonggi Art Competition, the Korea Namnong Art Exhibition, and the Mokwoo Fine Art Association Exhibition, drawing attention from critics.
Now as a full-fledged artist, Hong began to establish his own unique method of portraying objects with rather contradicting colors. Communicating the still lifestyle of modern people with his delicate sensitivity, the artist successfully created an abstract yet impressive style of painting.
In September of 2019, Hong entered the master’s program at Sahmyook University’s Graduate School of Integrated Arts. “My works certainly had uniqueness, yet were missing order and ground principles,” he said. “They were struggling to break out of the box to go beyond and above, because I lacked professional guidance.”
It was when Hong was taking Art Theory under Professor Kim Yong-seon (and Kim Cheon-jeong) that he came to realize that art is a very high-level study and should not be dealt with blindly, with no knowledge or principles. He said, “Had I not learned about the academic aspect of art, I would have been reckless and audacious about art, and would probably have stayed as a lay artist. I’m grateful to have received a quality and systematic art education here at Sahmyook University.”
Artist Hong, who is almost in his mid 70s, says that now is definitely the golden days of his life. He laughingly said, “If I were 3 years younger, I would have tried for a doctorate degree.”
“When the boy Edison embraced those eggs, he must have believed in a possibility. He still had the same belief even in his adulthood as he endeavored to invent electricity, when no one else believed in him. Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung left a famous motto: ‘Hey, have you given it a try?’” Hong explained.
“What should be shameful is ignorance and timidity, not being aged. There is nothing to be embarrassed about when you try something new at any point in life. Some may be hesitant or reluctant, saying they’re just too old to start anything new. But in the end, a courageous spirit is the surest key to really change your life.
Professor Kim Hyeong-seok, who is known as the ‘100-year-old intellectual’ points to the 70s in a person’s life course as the most beautiful time when your desires grow most vigorously. I also believe that the 70s is the best time for taking up any challenge. Think about it. Aren’t we too reasonable, probabilistic, and objective to make decisions and so just give up before even thinking about trying?“
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