Born in Korea, Seung Yul moved to New Zealand and became a New Zealand citizen. He studied at the University of Auckland's Elam School of Fine Arts, where he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts. During his time as a Masters student he was an active exhibitor, already gaining a high profile as a young artist.
When he was still at art school, Seung Yul Oh intrigued the audience at a one-night-only exhibition when he deep-fried all his paintings! Since then, his work has moved to a new level, beginning with representation in Artspace's (Auckland) New Artists exhibition Compelled (2005), curated by Rhana Devenport . He has been included in several other thematic exhibitions including Seeds of Order Chaos of Rhythms, Elam Students (2004) curated by Allan Smith; Snake oil, and Recent Acquisitions from the Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery (2005) curated by Robert Leonard.
Following his first major solo show CHEW CHEW Tongue at Starkwhite Gallery, Auckland, in February 2006, Seung Yul was invited to contribute a large new work 5 4 3 2 1 Auckland Artists Projects for an Auckland Art Gallery exhibition curated by Ngahiraka Mason. Seung Yul Oh's project exposed the Gallery as a living breathing entity, supporting the artworks and people within. The large-scale installation featured internal pipes and ventilation shafts animated by subterranean sounds of flowing air and water, bring to life the climate control systems so critical to the care and presentation of the Gallery's art collection.
Oddooki at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (2009/2010) was presented on the Museum's sculpture terrace. The work was commissioned by Te Papa and was described as: "a playful collection of five egg-shaped birds that rock and chime. Based on weighted toys that always right themselves, the works contrast a folksy aesthetic with the formal sculptural properties of high-gloss finished surfaces..."
Bogle Bogle was staged at The New Dowse in 2010 and was a characteristically idiosyncratic display combining elements of East Asian pop culture with ironic references to Western art. Oh said that the exhibition title came from the name of an old computer game that featured a baby dinosaur-like creature shooting bubbles out of its mouth to defend itself from the enemy.
Seung Yul completed his first public artwork in 2010. Commissioned by the New Market Business Association, in conjunction with Auckland City Council's Public Art Programme, Globgob is a cluster of 9 egg-shapes, installed in Teed Street, New Market, Auckland.
Internationally Seung Yul has embarked upon a new phase of his career aimed at taking his art to a wider international audience and the rapidly expanding Asia Pacific region. In 2010, Artspace (Auckland) presented a project of his work in the Project Rooms component of the Melbourne Art Fair, where his work caught the eye of Australian collectors.
Seung Yul Oh works fulltime as an artist and is occasionally called on by Auckland University's Elam School of Fine Arts to work with students in 'contact tutorials'. Starkwhite will present his work at ART HK the international art fair of Hong Kong in 2011.
Seung Yul Oh is the second recipient of the Harriet Friedlander Residency. Supported by the Arts Foundation, the Harriet Friedlander Residency sends an artist to New York for as long as $80,000 will last them. Seung Yul took up the residency in August 2011.