Following his graduation from Seoul National University with a B.A in Sculpture and M.A in Painting. Lim Ok-sang studied at Anglaim Art School in France. He then taught at the Chunju University, Korea for a decade.
Lim has had over 22 person exhibitions including Samsung Hoam Museum, Alternative Museum and Gana Art Gallery and has participates in over hundred group exhibitions including Venice Biennale, Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Gwangju Biennale and Beijing Biennale since 1970. His work is in the collections of the Korea National Museum, Seoul Museum of Art, Samsung Museum, and his work, <Standing in the Square-commemorating candlelight Revolution> is displayed on the wall of the Sejong Room of the Blue House. He works, too, as an art director or coordinator for World Ceramic Biennale in Kyungki province, “Nanjang in June” of Korea Democracy Foundation, Hi-Seoul Festicval, Korean Federation for Environment Movement, Korea Green Foundation, Beautiful Store, President of the World Script Institude and Peformance in Gwanghwamoon square.
The artist is celebrated as one of the leading artists of the Minjung movement in Korea and for work, particularly during the ’70s and ‘80s that was highly critical of political oppression. He was one of the founders of a critical journal, “Reality and Utterance” that coincided with the beginning of the Minjung movement.
Lim is an artist adept at expression in many different mediums. Other than Writing, paint, and metal the artist also has used paper and clay to form large scale figures that poignanty express the nature of mortality, the vulnerability and plight of the individual and humanity. The emphasis of his work has not only to speak out against injustice and the forces of destruction, but to make one aware of the value of life and the importance of preserving and caring for the environment in which we live.
Lim Ok-sang’s body of artwork, which has spanned 4 decades, needs to be examined taking into account the fierce context of Korean modern history. Since the late 1980s, Lim has assumed the roles of social witness, testifier, analyzer, declarer, and participator. In other words, he has been a social curator typing to bring about innovation while studying society and performing social diagnosis through art. The artistic language produced by Lim is not a refined, sophisticated, and attractive form of beauty, but often consists of a somewhat rough, expression-oriented context ad approach to through the use of slogans.
When Lim was a young artist in the 1970s and 1980s, he mainly produced straightforward and appealing paintings. His work at the time dealt with social events, human relations, and political ideology, and his practical and sometimes idealistic aphorisms were often effective.
Lim’s early paintings appealed to the public by asking for their participation in resistance and outcry against social injustice and suppression, as well as in the renewal of society through innovation. Lim formed alliances with other contemporary folk artists, helping unite the ethics and action of this artistic movement, which went on to distinguish itself from the ideal and formative nature of the institutionalized art circle at the time. Lim’s world of creativity overturned the conventional idea of an exhibition’s ability to acquire cultural assets; rather, through its acive nature it will be recorded as a template for the posing of questions related to the attitudes and political ethics of art in future generations.
In the 1980s, Lim attempted to expand the view of the context of Korean history through the incorporation of the history of the world into his artwork. For example, he portrayed the modern history of Africa smeared with colonialism and subjugation and used it as a mirror to reflect Korea history. Lim expressed the clear determination of the Korean public through the anger represented in the faces of Africans, and metaphorically examined the land of Korea by reddening the soil of Africa, displaying a highly sophisticated artistic presentation of planar work that looks directly into the typical offenses committed by dictators in developing nation, such as the suppression of basic human rights.
Since then, Lim has expanded his materials to include clay, paper, and three-dimensional work while trying to internalize and stabilize his methods of expression and his formats. Furthermore, the topical matter of his work has continued to evolve, broadening its scope from resistance to the comprehensive addressing of issues related to ecosystems and the environment.
For the past 20 years, Lim has engaged in public art, and worked to implement the artistic context so that it could breath among the city and its people. He has left his work in very specific and diverse locations, including the Samsung Reamian Apartment Complex, the Korean National Assembly, the Forest of Seoul, Sky Park at Sangam World Cup Stadium, the Welfare Center fore Physically Challenged Children, Jeon Tae-Il Street near Cheonggyecheon, and the cemetery of President Roh Moo-Hyun..
Most of Lim’s public art projects have strong tries to the location, and he mainly uses materials that are found near the geographical location of the installations. His installations eschew a high-tech approach in favor of simple and somewhat crude project. In particular, he used artillery shells and duds left from American military training for his work, demonstrating his unique sense of use of materials and the exceptional sensibility in his message.