Celebrity News
Gu Hye-sun presents an art exhibition
by | May 21, 2009 | 100 Comments

Gu Hye-sun‘s novel Tango, for which she recently held a book signing, contained the actress’s illustrations. Now she’s holding an art exhibition to show off more of her artwork.

As you may know, I wasn’t impressed with the book, but I thought the illustrations were decent. They were irrelevant to the book, but not bad for a doodling-in-the-margins effect, which is what they were. (Take a look at some of the illustrations below.) When some people commented that they were boring and repetitive, I thought that while true, that was a little harsh because they were just decorations — it’s not like she was selling them or calling herself a serious artist.

But to hold an exhibition? Erm…. Let’s just say that if I were a working artist dying to hold my own exhibition, I’d be a little insulted. But whatever, starpower, name recognition, etc etc.

Here’s the thing about Gu Hye-sun: I think she is a talented actress and seems like a sweet person. I respect her for having many interests and pursuing them. I certainly don’t think anyone should refrain from indulging in a passion because a cranky fan doesn’t like it.

On the other hand, I don’t love when people with mediocre skills pursue them at a professional level — and when someone puts out work at that level, I think they are completely game for unvarnished criticism. Sure, it’s unsporting to take a swipe at someone’s hobby, for instance, but once your work is presented as professional output, you’d better be prepared to take your lumps with professional-level critiques. So if you liked her novel, great. If you, like me, thought it was amateurishly written, I think that’s a valid complaint and the argument “at least she tried” doesn’t hold water for me once you’ve entered the professional realm.

Gu Hye-sun’s exhibition will take place next month in Insadong and feature forty of her illustrations. Her short film, The Cheerful Caretaker, screened at the Pusan International Film Festival on May 17. Meanwhile, she is also songwriting eleven songs to feature on her own album.


Here are some scans from the novel Tango:



Via Yonhap News


100 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Snikki

    These are actually pretty good. She has potential, eventually she can be a serious artist.

  2. Anonymous

    artwork is unimpressive to say the least. i thought GHS’s acting was fabulous and adorable in pure 19 which is why i take an interest in her, but having an exhibition for her ‘art’ is a stretch

  3. nikkaii

    i agree with you!
    i like her art..but i feel its a bit unfair to those who focused on it~

    then again..maybe am just teensy bit jealous~

  4. angle2mx

    They are not bad…well considering I can’t even do decent doodle so… .

  5. Samsooki

    Yeap, she is fair game for criticism.


    She is also fair game for encouragement and support, even that which may or may not be warranted based on the skill level presented. Why? Because that’s what being in the public sphere is about, no? People can appreciate things for different reasons.

    I am no art critic, so I won’t comment on the art. And I’ve not seen her in any drama role. But based on her track record, her versatility is startling. Might she be considered a polymath…. rennaissance woman?

    Props to her.

  6. Pickwick12

    I agree with you. These are nice sketches, but definitely not what I would call professional. If GHS wants to exhibit her art, then more power to her, but the attention it gets will be about celebrity rather than artistic merit.

  7. din

    these are pretty good. but yeah, not good enough on a professional level.
    i kinda wish that she didn’t hold an exhibition until she has reached that level where her artworks are really really good, so good that her artworks are the ones that leave a good impression on people and not that because those are her work.

    ugh. i’m having a hard time trying to express my opinion. hahaha.
    hope ya’ll kinda get it though :p

  8. makeupmag

    Wow, those eyelash curlers were totally random!

  9. Just my two cents

    i’m a fan of hye sun and while i agree that her novel was on the amateurish side, teen/emo angst doesn’t suit my taste, i don’t find her illustration mediocre. she seems very talented and artistically inclined judging from the scans posted.

    and, i’ve seen far worse art exhibitions where a set of muddy footprints on white paper or a pearly white toilet seat (‘modern’ art) was passed off as artistic brilliance.

  10. 10 k-lover

    I actually love her drawings. Even though they might not be as good as the professional artists’ work, hers seems to have the potential. Especially the drawings that have a human touch to them which can lead to a whole lot of imaginary interpretations.

  11. 11 shinhyesungluv

    I think these drawings are really good. If I could draw that well, i would want others to know it too. But I agree that they’re not good enough for an exhibition.

  12. 12 Werdah

    Honestly, I find the art work absolutely beautiful.

    They’re done really beautifully, with perfect symmetry and everything.
    I’m an Art major and these are really good.

  13. 13 YGfangirl

    oohh these drawing are really interesting!
    I don’t have enough background or authority to make critical remakes about her artwork….but as a normal person looking at these, i’d say they’re pretty good. Some really evoke thought and I can see where she might have gotten her inspiration…others look like random doodles (to me atleast) but all in all….they’re not that terrible. I mean, i’m sure normal people didnt look at Picasso’s paintings and go “WOW” right away…..sure the girl is using her name and fame and whtevers, but im happy she’s putting out something, using this little bit of fame she’s gotten to maybe help her pursue her ultimate dream (ie. film making, writting etc….)….its better than saturating CF’s and trying to singing *COUGH*LEEMINHO*COUGH*

  14. 14 Gert

    Her art work needs… More. I hope the art she presented had at least a strong tying theme and they took more time than those in her book. But she has a distinct style… Just needs more cultivation.

  15. 15 ellie

    bank on the brand name anytime!..she does have potential, maybe she might get better with proper instruction, the eyelash curlers was the most memorable for me, ..the rest I might have seen similar stuff from art students’ sketch pads.
    I think having an exhibition with her work at this level is pushing it..
    what seems to be a very talented and versatile person can also be seen as ‘jack of all trades..master of some'(in her case)…
    stick with the day job (actress/singer?)
    enough said……

  16. 16 Anonymous

    The illustrations look decent. They are pretty good. Regarding her holding an Art Exhibition for beginner like herself is not bad. GHS fighting.

  17. 17 Ash

    I’m sorry, I like Gu Hye-sun just fine, but I had friends in high school art class that could do illustrations on this level, if not better.

    For those of you saying, “These aren’t bad, she has potential to be a serious artist!” I understand that you’re trying to be encouraging, but the whole point of javabean’s post was that she probably shouldn’t have released artwork at the professional level UNTIL she had reached her “potential” to be a serious artist and was on the same plane as others who had to rely only on their own artistic merit to get an exhibition for their work. Otherwise, she’s just using her celebrity to get chances to pursue “hobbies” and display them on the professional level, while other people whose actual CAREERS are working as (more competent) novelists and artists don’t get a chance to showcase the fruits of their labor. Therefore, she’s fair game for the criticism other professionals have to deal with.

    And, like I said, these are nice doodles, but not exhibition-worthy material.

    Sorry, Gu Hye-sun. I still think you’re a sweet kid!

  18. 18 Kender

    Wow, those are doodle-tastic. o.O I do stuff like that all the time when I’m bored in class, so does that mean I can hold an exhibiton too? 😀 (Not that they’re bad, they’re just..unexceptional, I feel.)

    I dunno. I feel like celebrities should keep these extracurricular activities confined to their websites/blogs/fanzines/whatever until they’re given sufficient encouragement otherwise. And by sufficient encouragement, I mean that critics have actually praised their work and told them they should pursue it professionally. I’m all for celebs stretching their wings and excercising other talents, but to gain recognition for something mediocre simply because they’re already a star is pushing it.

    And she’s writing songs in addition to her movie, her art exhibition, her book, and her acting career? Does this girl understand what “jack of all trades, master of none” means? (Is there an equivalent phrase in Korean? If there is, I’d like to know it.)

  19. 19 haru

    I like the art, but the fact that she’s pursuing so many “careers” or paths is a bit overwhelming. Writing, art, directing, acting…now even writing her own songs for her own album?? Why do some people feel the need to pursue SO many paths?! One or two isn’t good enough for her, it appears, so she’s trying out so much else. It’s weird, but I’m almost annoyed at her for this, and I don’t quite know why.

  20. 20 cecee

    Yes, I do understand that she is putting out materials that are not “critic worthy” but they are pretty good in the eyes of an average person. Average people can not doodle well as she did. Yes, she is milking the fame for what it is worth, but she is showcasing just like everyone else in BOF is. BOF is like their 15 mins of fame and they should be allowed to do what they can while they are still “HOT” commodity. I do agree with java to a certain extent but they are “stars” so they are subjected to many criticism. I for one think she is doing just fine.

    @13 I totally agree!

  21. 21 B.B.

    Sorry but after seeing the ink/water colour paintings by Shim Eun-ha in the post a few weeks back, exhibited along side other artists at the Seoul Open Arts Fair (SOAF). This really seems like riding the celebrity name wave.

    Original, check here : http://www.squidoo.com/doodle-art

  22. 22 lala


    I can draw better than that. Seriously.

  23. 23 popcorn

    I think her art is rather cute but not exceptional to the point it deserves an exhibition but I guess fame is also an important factor for showcase. I agree with you that since she actually published a book and allows an exhibition, she should be ready for any criticisms going her way.

    I can’t blame her for pursuing a lot of different areas since besides from literature I also like art. I am mediocre in both but shouldn’t she, a public figure, just dedicate to one and be good at it instead of trying too many things? I agree she is talented but I can’t help but think that her talent is tiny but her goals for recognition is too high. It is sad in that being a public figure and all the success which is mostly as a result of it actually might make her more confident in the areas that she need more polishing for.

    Oh well, 🙂

  24. 24 bluebunny

    I agree with you #20-u took the words out of my mouth! The F4 boys are cashing in on their fame so why can’t she?

    Though I haven’t read her novel do I like her drawings. I think it’s better than what some regular folks like me draw (it’s better than what I drew in art class in college). I do think she is artistic/creative. I’m actually interested in seeing more drawings from her but would really love to see her short film. She takes risks knowing that she’s always gonna have critics. She’s just not “closing a window of opportunities when it’s open”-more power to her!

  25. 25 kimchii

    I like the eyelash curlers..
    Had to scroll back up to check what they were..
    Random? Probably fit where the book was maybe?

  26. 26 Jes

    I’ve seen a lot of modern art and compared to what I have seen in famous museums and exhibitions, Gu Hye Sun’s artwork deserves praise.
    Her style isn’t traditional so you can’t compare her work in that light.

    I say ‘good for her’ for displaying her work. What about those ninny celebrities who
    come out with their own handbags, clothing designs, restaurants, etc who know nothing about those fields?
    She seems to really enjoy art. Let her have her exhibition, since she had the money and means to have one and let the envy-monster critics be silenced. 🙂

  27. 27 K.C

    well, i think her illustrations are rather looking like sketches
    nevertheless i found them pretty nice and creative- if they are still worth
    of an exhibition is a question everybody has to think of himself xD

  28. 28 majata

    Her artwork is good,maybe she can’t compare to some of the really talented artists but on their own, they’re worthy of praise. I for one can’t even sketch a perfect egg so I’m in awe of her work.

  29. 29 KellieT

    I agree with you, #26 Jes. Art is a pretty subjective thing.

    It’s funny that nobody seems to be complaining, at least not to the extent of some of these comments here, about the f4 guys totally cashing in on their fame. I mean, Kim Bum can definitely hold a note, but Lee Min Ho singing is mediocre at best. Not to mention that god awful digital single he released with his wow-tastic dancing abilities and digitalized voice.

    At least Goo Hye Sun is pursuing things she seems to have a genuine interest in and talent for. I get that a lot of the commentators find her talent in these areas lacking or undeserving of the recognition she’s getting, but honestly, why is there a disproportionate amount of criticism , compared to the f4 boys and their outside acting pursuits, always directed towards anything and everything she does outside of acting? I don’t know; it sounds an awful like envy to me.

  30. 30 Muffin

    I like her drawing style. The end.

  31. 31 javabeans

    Trust me, I’m sick of the F4 boys too.

    I think the key difference, however, is that most of the boys’ activities are commercial from the get-go. A photo shoot in a magazine or a CF pushing a product doesn’t attract the same criticism because those aren’t passing off an activity as serious art. Writing a novel and holding an art exhibition? Those are indicative of greater artistic pretensions than selling a donut. The nature of the work elicits different levels of response, imo.

    The “you’re just jealous” argument tends to come out a lot in situations like this but I don’t find it persuasive. I’m not envious of Gu Hye-sun’s skills — good for her, and I mean that sincerely — but I think I can still make comments about her products without being reduced to an “envy-monster critic.”

  32. 32 E

    I think her art is worthy of an exhibition…maybe if she made bigger pieces and showcased them as well. Maybe I’m not really good at the whole art thing and not really experienced with it at all but to me…it’s quite good to be able to draw it and turthfully it’s definitely a different style than other artists.

    I find that if she has the ability to hold an art exhibition…why not? I’ve seen art exhibitions with people taping old pieces of gym equipment together so compared to that…this is pretty cool.

  33. 33 dunlop

    I agree it’s not the best, but just because people(including me) may sometimes think it has to be super-pretty to be in an exhibition, it doesn’t mean that it has to be. If you look at the some art pieces that are popular, sometimes it will make you wonder, “How did that thing get so famous?” But art has so much more to it than what you see at first. Never judge art by it’s colors. I’m sorry, I don’t think this even has to do with GHS’s pictures. I was just noticing that everyone including myself have been judging her pictures only by the patterns and colors.

    Anyway, should GHS be pursuing all these things at a professional level? I’m not so sure myself. I just know that I respect GHS for pursuing what she wants despite the criticisms.

  34. 34 pep

    the issue is not the artist or the artwork itself, but the categorization in which the critics past/present experience/understanding/knowledge/prejudices come to judge what is presented to them.

    Ms. Gu may not be Picasso or she may not be Hemingway because she does not belong to that category of artist/novelist. Comparable to Mr. Stanley from the group KISS as his art has presented value for mass consumption/appreciation and so too would Ms. Gu art/novels at some/different level.

    As long as Ms. Gu work continue to evoke response to someones senses/emotion there will be a market for her art. Exhibition worthy or not.

  35. 35 amy

    I like her doodles here, but her writings… they’re so pretentious to the point that I am annoyed by them.

  36. 36 Gedubraxz

    Nothing special.i think it’s not good enough to a prof level

  37. 37 ohyehbb

    I know so many people who are wayyy better than she is at art, not to mention are seriously studying it, and have never had an exhibition in their lives. Not to say these are bad or anything, just that it’s hardly good enough to get an exhibition.

    I feel like she is pursuing too many things professionally. It’s one thing to have hobbies, but turning every hobby into a profession is a little much–I wouldn’t even be complaining if those hobbies were at a professional level, but they just aren’t. Actress, writer, artist, director, musician… I don’t know, for me it’s hard to take her seriously. She does seem nice and everything, but I kind of wish she would keep her hobbies to herself like most people do until they’re actually good enough to showcase.

  38. 38 Marie

    “its better than saturating CF’s and trying to singing *COUGH*LEEMINHO*COUGH*”

    Isn’t GHS also coming out with an album? I feel like she’s really spreading herself thin with all these side projects when 1) she’s not incredibly talented in any of these areas, and 2) her strongest talent, acting, still needs a considerable amount of work.

  39. 39 jazz

    The boys are milking thru fame on CF or photo shoots from magazine whereas she is promoting herself in different ways by writing novel and holding an art exhibition. i admire her encouragement but be honest, she is not really talented in any of these..

  40. 40 Motosake

    I like her art work, very nice but not over flowing with endless thoughts of randomness… I’m starting to wonder now if that picture of Ji Hoo (Kim Hyung Jung) was sketched by her?! (the one where they were sitting on the bench outside of the musem and he fell asleep on…)

  41. 41 MoMo

    Art is pretty subjective isn’t it? What is wonderful and interesting for some may be mediocre or awful to others. I believe GHS should not stop herself from pursuing all her interests just because she happens to be an actress. She cannot stop herself short thinking that she’s not good enough. I don’t think anyone should, film star or not, for that matter.

    I followed her since her supporting role in Seo Dong Yo. Like all her pre-BOF fans I knew she is multi-talented. I am very happy that BOF has elevated her to the level that she very much deserves. But I don’t think her post-BOF popularity made her what she is today as she had always been talented. I believe that it merely took her to where she is today, which I believe is fair.

  42. 42 cosmopolite

    I think you’re absolutely justified in your criticism. The key point is the professional aspect. She went for it and she should be ready for the (good and bad) reactions.

  43. 43 Iris

    I’d go to the exhibition, put it that way. I’ve seen (as someone mentioned above) way to many weird and awful examples of ‘modern art’ which ends up just being paint thrown onto a canvas.

    I think you’re right about her being prepared for good and bad criticism, though. If you want your work to be taken seriously, then that’s the sort of things that happen to serious writers and artists.

  44. 44 MoviesWeHaveWatched

    Isn’t she just doing what she went to school for?

  45. 45 Nanae123

    Well imo, they aren’t bad illustrations but not exceptionally good enough to held an exhibition… why do actress want to become an artists who wrote novel and draw some illusrations… i don’t understand the connections… why didn’t she just focus on one thing or a few things that are related to one another and try to become the best.. but why does she need to try to become everything… when she can’t be the best at everything…

  46. 46 popcorn

    I don’t think it is a matter of jealousy. I know she is just taking the opportunity from the BOF fervor to allow for her hobbies to be seen by her fans. I know the feelings or desires of an artist to let others see their creations but at the same time those feelings should be accompanied with acceptance for various criticism and/or opinions from the same viewers. She put herself in public she should be ready for what public has to say. I can’t understand why is it that one person thinks she doesn’t deserve the attention that many artists who are way more exceptional due to long experiences and practices do not have the same opportunity as she cannot stop and criticize her art in a more professional level? If others are defending her in a way that says she has the gut to show off her hobbies, I wonder if they ever stop and wonder if they work so hard for something and never get the same recognition as someone who has only mediocre skill? Think about those artists who have been drawing for so long.. It is also a matter of pride for the “art” itself.

    My cousins and I have many doodles like her but we never really get praised for them. It is rather called mediocre by us both as well. We just believe that we have a long way to go before we can actually show it off for others to see. That and the fear that we won’t be ready to accept a more professional criticism. I’m just saying good for her for her success but also let others judge for themselves whether she deserve the same praises others work so hard for and never receive any. I mean it is justified if she is actually “good” but to me, it’s “cute” rather than “wow”.

    This is the first time I wrote two replies… 😀 I’m just annoyed that some people regard the criticism as jealousy. No.

  47. 47 hyesun has talent :)

    i think she’s talented, and has lots of potential

    if she just took the time to photoshop/color in the pictures/ add some more detail, i see a lot of potential

  48. 48 Danielle

    I agree with #44 I don’t get why people are making it seem like she just got famous and decided tomorrow I’m going to write a book or draw some pictures, and saying these are just her hobbies. She went to school for this, it didn’t come overnight. When you get out of college do you not look for a job because you may not be good at it at first. She got famous on her abilities no matter how it started off. Her fame draws peoples interest and more power to her. She’s lucky enough to find a job and build a career doing what she studied which is hard to say for a lot of people.

    I also think her art is beautifully done for modern art, and I have seen much worse. I hope she does well.

  49. 49 Crab

    If you have it…flaunt it! we’re living in a damn if you do damn if you dont kinna world anyway, so you might as well make use–show– evrything you got..be proud of it and be happy with it! … when you’re onstage and the spotlight is on you…show ev’one what you’ve got…coz if you do..you might inspire a soul but if it’s the other way around atleast yer heating a nerve…care less coz envy is thin coz it bites but never eats anyway! boo them who don’t have the guts to show their worth…

    I commend Gu Hye-sun for not letting the opportunities slip her hand… coz really she’ll never know when the spotlight’s still on her or to someone else…

  50. 50 MEIKO**** ^-^

    mmm…. her doodles are interesting….

    the thoughts that came to my mind:

    *Some artists do have, what we call signature works, and their works may have repetitive concepts…

    *Some of their works too may look so plain, and ordinary…But these artists are professionals…

    *it used to be that artist with potential can only show or do exhibit if he is being sponsored by a well respected artist…. are they still doing that today? or Is it just as long as you can afford to do one?

    * cliche ” a man’s trash may be another man’s treasure”… hehe… what i mean is some people may look at an art as a “blah” but others may see something else…

    mmm…I guess it is really a fair game… in the field of creative arts and performance.. you can only go up the ladder if you have the talent and you are accepted and praised not only by the common people but by the artists whose skill/crafts have been well known throughout….

    we will see then, if hers is considered a true art….

    about the “professional” word… in arts? mmmm…..