Letter Abstract and ‘Académie de Peinture Orientale de Paris' (1970s)
Since the mid 1960s, Goam developed a new form of abstract art using letters in a new series called ‘Abstract Letter’. He found a new potential for Eastern abstract painting in the Chinese characters and calligraphy he had learned and practiced since childhood: Chinese characters were originally pictographs, abstractions of natural forms, in which their sound and meaning were expressed in the form of strokes and dots. In the early phase of the Abstract Letter series, he reinterpreted modern abstract painting with a calligraphic style, combining hieroglyphic-like characters written on a planar surface with the unintentional effect of smudged ink on a traditional Korean paper, ‘hanji’. In the later phase, he increasingly disassembled, transformed, and reassembled the geometrical forms of the letters. Ungno focused on the abstract patterns of ‘hangul’ and ‘hanja’, combined the patterns to create numerous variations.
In 1964, Goam founded the Académie de Peinture Orientale de Paris within Musée Cernuschi in Paris, and taught local people traditional Korean painting and calligraphy. V. Elisseeff, director of Musée Cernuschi, helped with the establishment of the Académie with the support of many artists including H. Hartung, P. Soulages, Fujita and Zao Wou-Ki. As the only institute of East-Asian art, the Académie was a bridgehead for Korean art into Europe, where there was little understanding of Korean culture.