Kumho Museum Celebrates Anniversary With Cross-Media ShowThe writer Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) was not alone in visualizing clouds as flowing melodies. With fields of art becoming more and more interdisciplinary, the boundaries between music and art are quickly diminishing. It is nothing new in art history to marry creative mediums. Numerous 20th century artists and musicians have fused musical and artistic elements. Some of them include Wassil Kendinsky, part of the Russian Constructivist Movement, and Paul Klee, originally a violinist. More recently, avant-garde performance-sound artists like John Cage and Paik Nam-june have used a variety of visual imagery.
French artist Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) was also in this category. The Kumho Museum, celebrating its 11th anniversary, is showing works by Dufy and eight Korean artists through Feb. 4 as part of a "Music in Art" exhibition that focuses on artistic creations based on music. "Bonjour Dufy" presents a general overview of Dufy's works and use of unrestrained brushstrokes. Born in 1887 in Le Havre, a French fishing village, Dufy inherited his love of music from his father, who was a church organist. In 1903, Dufy became part of the Fauvist Movement along with his artist friends such as Derain and Matisse, and later embraced the Cubist School. Though Dufy's earlier works depict literal musical scenes, such as an orchestra rehearsing, his interest gradually moved towards more conceptual interpretations.
They are less realistic, but rich in mood. His pen sketches are perhaps the best examples of his work. In the artist's preliminary studies, there is a sense of "swiftness" that runs parallel with musical rhythms. With just a few gestural lines, "Carnaval Promenade Des Anglais" presents a starkly poetic musical vision. As well as the Dufy exhibition on the second floor, another section, "Pour La Musique," features the works of seven Korean artists who use music for creative inspi-ration.
The artists present their interpretations of their favorite classical music (or musicians). Ko Myung-keun presents George Handel's "Goddess" and Tchaichovsky's "Sleeping Beauty" as a mixed-media work. By placing a sleeping female Buddha on top of a photograph of a forest, Ko questions society's stereotypical view of female beauty. Buddha, symbolizing one's sense of awareness in the work, contradicts the myth of a "sleeping" beauty, representing the common notion that equates femininity with passivity.
More spontaneously, Lee Joo-yun recreates music by Bach and Dvorak. An abstract pen drawing focuses on the "divine" aspect of Bach's compositions. Former photojournalist Hwang Kyu-tae contributes a digitally manipulated photo collage as a tribute to John Cage, a pioneer of experimental art. Cage's unconventionality is also present in Hwang's "popish" images. Also part of the "Music in Art" is Cheong Kyung-hee's "The Magic Flute 2001." A stage designer, Cheong presents the most compelling body of work in the show.
As Mozart's only opera that uses the German language, "The Magic Flute" presents rich visual imageries of stagecraft accompanied by his musical masterpieces. An imaginative opera, "Magic Flute" has been staged by some of the leading theatre artists including David Hockney and Robert Wilson. Not only has the artist created spectacular costumes for the main characters, such as Prince Tamina or Pamina, the night queen's daughter, but she has used her full creative talents with peripheral characters like the angel boy and the warriors in the installation.
Video monitors in the warriors' chests play a contemporary version of the opera. With unique props and stage lighting, Cheong's creation becomes a performance of its own. There is also a screen where viewers can watch the classical version of "The Magic Flute."
"The show is an extension of our ongoing efforts to bring art and music together," says Kumho Museum curator Shin Jung-a, who organized the exhibition. "The artists and musicians have an interactive relationship. Classical music, for example, has been the creative stimulus for painters for a long time." But most importantly, Ms. Shin says, the exhibition was organized to broaden public awareness of the non-profit museum. Ms. Shin is concerned that the museun's visitors have been mainly artists.
Despite the museum's ambitious intentions, "Music in Art" has its shortcomings. In "Pour La Musique," for example, the artists fail to pay enough attention to the historical context of the music they have chosen. And the representations are perhaps too literal. Ms. Shin points out that the exhibition was subject to budget restraints.
As part of the exhibition, Kumho Cultural Foundation musicians also organized a "Gallery Concert" along with the exhibition. Featuring recitals in which the performers give concerts amid the art works, the event aims to help people appreciate music from a different perspective.
For information, phone 02-720-5114.
by Park Soo-mee