Korean artist’s U.S. debut exhibit on display at Firehouse

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‘Life’s Continuous Journey’ highlights literature, philosophy and cultural history

A new solo exhibition in Pleasanton showcases abstract and intricate artwork by Korean artist SeongMi Seol. “Life’s Continuous Journey” is Seol’s first major exhibit debut in the United States.

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“Coexist” by SeongMi Seol is an acrylic painting. The artwork features Seol’s signature feather. (Image courtesy Firehouse Arts)

Attendees will be able to view 11 large-scale pieces that draw on Seol’s personal artistry and signature style. Held in the Firehouse Arts Center’s lobby, the display opened last week and will run through July 15.

Originally from South Korea, Seol is now based in San Ramon. Her work is said to show references to philosophy, literature and Korean history.

In a statement, Seol described her artwork in the exhibition as “inherently expressive”.

“Color is allowed to escape from my paintings, affecting the mood of normal living spaces,” Seol said. “Art provides relief from the mundane, as does nature, removing the social and external boundaries that stifle human freedom and interconnectedness.”

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Notably, feathers and hands are common recurring objects in Seol’s paintings.

“In my paintings the feathers symbolically express the underlying desires of human beings including obsession, possessions, hope and an ideal world in which we can transcend these pursuits and have a better future,” Seol said.

Korean artist's U.S. debut exhibit on display at Firehouse

“New Beginning” by painter SeongMi Seol. (Image courtesy Firehouse Arts)

“The hands (then) become an object that can implicitly express a person’s inner self by showing the traces of a person’s life as it is. My hands are often painted in detail to realistically explain and accurately describe the subject’s life and inner self,” she continued.

With over 25 years of painting experience, Seol has been the recipient of various awards for her traditional East Asian painting skills.

“One’s life experiences and heavy burdens are emphasized and expressed realistically to create this effect in the details,” Seol said of her work.

Firehouse exhibit curator Sydney Tang spoke to the Weekly about the artwork, its meaning and why residents should attend.

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SeongMi Seol’s “All in Your Hand” will be displayed in her solo exhibition “Life’s Continuous Journey” at the Firehouse Arts Lobby through July 15. (Image courtesy Firehouse Arts)

“The exhibit includes several of the artist’s earlier works from 2012, as well as her most recent works experimenting with concepts of abstraction and perspective. Together, these provide visitors with the opportunity to experience the metamorphosis of Seol’s style over the span of a decade,” Tang said.

“By visiting this exhibit, community members can enjoy the full breadth of the San Ramon-based artist’s extensive oeuvre,” Tang added.

Tang explained that the recurring hand motifs in the artwork are modeled after Seol’s father.

“This presentation carries deeply personal yet universal qualities of optimism and affirmation to one’s self,” Tang said.

“Life’s Continuous Journey” is free to attend at the city-owned theater venue in downtown Pleasanton. For more information on the solo exhibition, visit www.firehousearts.org.