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Kyungja Oh


APRIL 9 - MAY 7, 2022

Opening Reception | April 9, 2022, 1-5pm

Shatto Gallery is pleased to present a suite of calligraphic works by the Korean American artist Kyungja Oh. This exhibition, Beyond…, will be on view from April 9 through May 7, 2022. 


Kyungja Oh is a calligraphy artist who employs audacious brush strokes to explore her personal journey into the legacy of classic and contemporary writings.  Born in Korea, the artist rediscovered her true love for calligraphy while residing in the U.S.  With the desire to learn and regain familiarity with the ancient teachings, Oh picked up the brush and began to rewrite original texts with calligraphy sensibilities. 


In the past 20 years of obtaining a rigorous discipline in calligraphy, the artist developed an expertise in writing cursive script; cho-seo, a very cursive style of writing Chinese characters. Cursive texts are historically accompanied by ye-seo; an angular style of writing Chinese characters conveyed legibly. As Oh long surveys these written forms, her style liberates from the convention of classical calligraphic handwriting and articulates with freedom and exuberance. She also takes the trajectory of visually animated consonants of the character. 


Oh responds to the forces of the ever-changing contemporary world and reconciles the ancient form of writing with the context of our present-day. The installation of umbrellas is an example of her modern take of the infamous poem Gwi-cheon by the poet Cheon Sangbyung which translates to Return to Heaven. While she contemplates the poem’s message of beautiful life lived on earth, she draws on the image of Mary Poppins flying with an umbrella and fantasizes her ascension into heaven. 


The artist also embarked on writing Cheonjamun which literally means 1000 character text; a Chinese poem from the sixth century used as a principle to teach children. She employs both cho-seo and ye-seo style on a scroll that unfurls approximately 32ft. This work exhibits Oh’s ambitious trajectory of commanding a steady maneuver of the brush as she writes in one streamlined manner so that the fidelity of the characters is not consequently interrupted by discontinuance. 


This exhibition is a culmination of Kyungja Oh’s striking calligraphic works. The artist’s extensive discipline in lettering manifests vitality of line weight, speed, and breakthroughs in the traditional medium of calligraphy. 


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