• Inez Suen

Visit: Choi Sangchul

This past Art Basel Hong Kong, while having dimsum with friends, Joanne Lim, Founder and Director of J&S International Art Project, shows me this youtube video clip of a guy making art by rolling around a stone.  This immediately caught my attention, and lucky me! I happen to be flying to Seoul the following week.   


So Joanne picked me up at the hotel and we drove about an hour outside of the city to the Korean countryside where we pulled off onto a gravel road and up to this brown nondescript building.  Here, we were greeted by a 5ft tall, older Korean gentleman with wispy white hair and speaks at just slightly above a whisper.  


Choi Sangchul was a professor to university students of western oil paintings for many years.  Even while he taught full time, he was very studious about creating art and through regimented practice, developed his own artist voice.  And since retirement from teaching, he is now dedicated to his paintings.  He has set hours where he works and keeps tedious records of his progress.  


We enter into his spotless studio where there were several stacks of paintings.  Mr Choi with the help of Joanne’s translations starts telling me about his practice.  I think we started with his more traditional Korean abstract paintings from the 80′s.  At a mighty 5 ft, this man lifts paintings two times his size as if they were paper…actually, i thought it was paper.  Boy was I wrong!  It’s acrylic ink on linen!!  He stretches the canvases himself AND he doesn’t use a paint brush!! 🤔

In Choi’s older works, he uses deliberately planned strokes and more colors.


As Mr. Choi pulls away layers, the paintings become more contemporary and it’s clear that he has become very established in his style.  Mr. Choi has created for himself a very disciplined process to create art in order to eliminate the human ego from the paining process as much as possible.  He creates a type of stroke with an object (stone, stick, wire) in sketch form on paper, and then executes them on canvas.  Creating the marks, he leaves somewhat up to chance, sometimes as simply as flipping a coin, but always in repetitions of 1000.

Sketches of possible future paintings and Choi making marks on a painting with metal wire.


It was an honor to meet Mr. Choi and visit his studio.  What’s next?  We hope to bring Mr. Choi’s work to the United States and work with US based galleries and insitutions, so more people can see more of his works.  :)  Want to know more? Please contact us for more information!