Korean traditional real landscape paintings depict actual scenery, but it aspires to something beyond what we see. My paintings are the same fundamentally ― they are much rooted in reality, but expand the idea of it.
– Yoo Geun-Taek
Yoo Geun-Taek layers historical Korean art practices into his surreal landscapes and interior scenes. Traditional approaches – like his use of hanji (mulberry paper), oyster shell powder, and broken ink and ink infusion techniques – build depth and texture within the pieces, giving each scene an experimental feel that complicates his subject matter. For his Fountain series, geysers of water are the focal point for the scene and a chance for Yoo to highlight the texture of the hanji’s surface. In this work from 2021, three jets of water flood a cramped interior, framing the small window onto the city outside. Ink, gouache, and paper become inseparable as each brushstroke seems embedded into the fibers, giving the muted color palette complexity and richness. Since the 1990s, Yoo has painted heightened representations of everyday life. His work can be found in many public and private collections, including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea, Seoul; the Seoul Olympic Museum of Art; Jeju Museum of Art, Jeju City; Chengdu Contemporary Art Museum, Chengdu; Busan Museum of Art, Busan; and Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul, among others.