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KO, SENG MAN  (B.1958)

Ko Seng Man - Introduction

Ko Seng Man (고성만) went through an unusual journey of self discovery and reflection before beginning his painting practice. During the early 80’s, Ko ran a publishing company that produced books which functioned as a forum for intellectuals and left leaning students to speak openly about their concerns and opinions regarding the current political climate and the arts. This was during a period of intense government censorship under the presidency of Jun Du Han, who gained notoriety for using abusive methods to stomp out anyone who criticized him and his government. Despite anger, fear and confusion as the government forced Ko to shut down his publishing company, he had found a subject that would later provide him with source material for his painting practice, which would begin in earnest almost 30 years later. Censorship, paranoia, and skepticism toward authority are forces that haunt the surfaces of his work. Expressed through an experimentation with paint, an expanding vocabulary of drips, pours and smears serve to portray his deepest feelings about leaving Korea, his life as an immigrant in New York in the early 90’s, and his eventual return to his native country. From 1992 to 2010, Ko lived and worked in New York City’s garment district as an art director designing logos and apparel with influences from hip hop culture. It was during this time that he grew sensitive to issues of race and class in America. Compared to the homogeneity of his native South Korea, New York offered a much more diverse environment that Ko initially met with great difficulty. Overcoming language barriers and learning American customs late in his life presented new challenges. Ko states that witnessing the fall of the twin towers while drinking coffee with his co-workers on September 11th, 2001, haunted him for years. The disaster brought up a reason to think about what the towers symbolized. Capital and power: two out of many signs of American dominance, felt challenged in the most horrific way. In a piece titled “100 US$ Fantasia No.1113” (2011), Ko depicts a scene of the twin towers as seen from afar. NYPD Police tape is painted over the surface, breaking the illusion of the space of the towers. At the far left of the painting is a crisply drawn Nike “check” logo- which according to Ko symbolized his uncomfortable emotions toward the connection between power (as represented here through a brand), and the often dehumanizing activities required to uphold it. Ko states that what is particular to this work is the way in which it evokes an uneasy sense of humor, a sort of “nervous laugh”, to laugh at that which one knows isn’t good. As Ko continues to make work back home in Korea, the themes and memories which left a deep impression on him continue to inform his practice. From his brief involvement as an left leaning publisher in the early 80’s, to his journey as an immigrant working in the garment district in New York from the 90’s to the aughts, Ko Seng Man has seen both his native Korea as well as America go through profound change. His desire to bear witness to this change provides him with a deep compulsion to unpack his emotions through his painting practice.


EDUCATION Hongik University – Master of Fine Art (MFA),

KOREA 1993 – 1994 Art Students League of New York ,U.S.A.



2015 “Difference, Repetition, Renewal" - Gana Insa Art Center, SEOUL


2013 “Untitled”  – A+A+ Artspace, BEIJING

2012 “100 US$ FANTASIA” - CSP111 Art Space, SEOUL



2014 "new york artists" - SIA-NEW YORK GALLERY, CHELSEA .NEW YORK. U.S.A

2014 “Korea - Russia, Russia - Korea” - Repin International University Museum, ST. PETERSBURG , RUSSIA

2014 “Streaming Part 2” - Schema Art Museum, SEOUL 2013 “Beijing Full Moon Part 2”, A+A+ Artspace, BEIJING

2012 “Streaming-DA” Palais De Seoul Gallery, SEOUL

2012 “The Joy of Life”, Hongik University Gallery, SEOUL 2011 “Beijing Full Moon Part 1”, A+A+ Artspace, BEIJING

2010 “Beyond The Cultural Horizons”, The Sixth Culture and Arts Festival, Sang Sang International, BEIJING

2010 “A Painting Flies Over The Palace” - HHG Gallery, SEOUL

2010 “Love” - National Medical Center Gallery (NMC Gallery), SEOUL


Art Fairs

2015 Seoul Art Fair

2015 Busan Art Fair

2016 Singapore Art Fair

2016 Art GyeongJu , GyeongJu City, Korea

2016 Art Busan ,Busan, Korea

*RECENT SOLO SHOW  " Living Abstract "  ( 24TH -30TH AUGUST 2016 )  @INSA ART CENTER SEOUL .

 "생추상 전 " 2016.8.24-8.30. 인사아트센터 서울.


  < You-tube Moving Images >

* Sketch of Recent works at Solo Exhibition ( April, 2016 ) 

최근 전시회 스케치 2016년 4월  한전 아트센터 @HanJeon Art Center Gallery Seoul.


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