Artist Introduces Genre of Emography in New Exhibit

Emography by Huh Hwe-tae
"Toward a Blue Sky" by Huh Hwe-tae, director of the Moosan Emographic Art Institute in Seoul, Korea

Huh Hwe-tae of Seoul, Korea, is introducing a new art genre to U.S. audiences with his exhibit of emography that opens Saturday, Nov. 14.

Mr. Huh is director of the Moosan Emographic Art Institute in Seoul. He invented his new art form, that combines ancient Asian calligraphy with modern painting techniques, in 2005.

Huh uses enormous brushes to paint images on paper, ceramics, furniture and other media. At first glance, the viewer sees simple calligraphy characters. But, when viewed in depth, his characters transform into images with deeper meaning.

Huh Hwe-tae
Huh Hwe-tae, director of the Moosan Emographic Art Institute in Seoul, Korea

Huh, also renowned for his work as a seal engraver in his home country, won the grand prize at the 1995 National Art Exhibition, the most esteemed competition in Korea. His solo emography exhibits include the Seoul Arts Center Calligraphy Museum in 2008 and the Korean Culture Center in Berlin, Germany, in 2006.

He earned a BA in Chinese culture from Namseoul University and an MFA in Korean painting from Sang-myung University, both in Seoul.

"Huh Hwe-Tae’s art energizes the ancient practice of Korean and Chinese writing through a fruitful encounter with Western art forms. His Emography combines the formal expressive power of a Franz Kline painting with the symbolic communicative power that comes from his long years as a disciple of classical calligraphy," said Steven D. Johnson, associate professor of visual and communication arts at EMU.

"Impressive in scale, his images balance spontaneous raw strokes with an elegant, highly abstracted type of representation," Johnson stated. "Using a giant brush, the artist creates remarkably energetic characters – characters that in their often humanlike or animal like forms – conjure emotions, relationships, and even spiritual states. The result is a double impact – intuitive enjoyment of form followed by recognition and engagement with sensitive icons."

A reception for Huh Hwe-tae will be held 4-5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, in the art gallery on third floor of EMU’s Hartzler Library. The artist will talk about his work and demonstrate two pieces, one the emography of the letters "EMU" that he will give as a gift to the university.

The exhibit is open for viewing during regular library hours through Dec. 15, and admission is free.