Foreign artists depict Korea

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Foreign artists depict Korea

Contemporary art in Korea was undoubtedly influenced by the traditions of Western art. But what about contemporary Western artists? Have they been influenced at all by Eastern methodologies?
Twelve artists from abroad, whose works have been deeply influenced by their time in Korea, have put together an exhibition at Gwanhun Gallery in Insa-dong, which opened yesterday.
“Korean-Eyesed” is an exhibition featuring the paintings and sculptures of these foreign artists, whose works reflect their views of the country. Each artist explores notions of Korean identity and artistic or social experiences in Korea based on what they see as the essence of Korean colors, symbols, philosophies or moods.
The sense of place and the uniqueness of the cultural surroundings are focused on by many of the expatriate artists. Still life paintings by Australian artist Maryanne Wick depict Korean pottery positioned in surreal and unusual ways. The paintings aim to reflect the mood, texture and the familiarity of Seoul’s urban landscape. In a series dubbed “The Blue Roof,” inspired by Picasso’s painting “Roofs of Barcelona,” the artist depicts a scene near the Blue House.
The same artist also presents “My Private Itaewon,” a series of snapshots of everyday life in the neighborhood.
A set of mogu sculptures by Yesim Sendil are made out of carved wood, painted brightly in primary and secondary colors. The imagery, influenced by the artist’s visits to antique stores in Insa-dong, juxtaposes the artist’s personal impressions of the objects with the history and tradition of funeral rituals in Korea.
“The Monk Metaphors,” by Claire Wastiaux, is an installation of images concerning the artist’s personal ruminations on the influence of “the Asian sense of beauty.” The artist’s connection to her new cultural surroundings is reflected in her use of bold colors.
Others deal with more explicit cultural differences. Yvonne Boag draws on her experience of visiting a dog market in Seoul. Jonathan Barnbrook, a graphic designer, replaces the image of Colonel Sanders in a KFC ad with the face of Kim Jong-il; he considers them “two scary individuals whose faces appear everywhere and who both have an amazing amount of power.”
Elodie Dornand, a French artist, recreates the confusion he felt during his stay in Korea ― with its atmosphere blending modern inventions and ancestral traditions ― through drawings of his surroundings done on a monumental scale.
Junichiro Ishii from Japan has created a sound installation in which the artist tests how mood affects space, in an attempt to demonstrate what constitutes the powerful Korean atmosphere.

by Park Soo-mee

Guided tours (lectures) will be held in Korean and English on Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Special tours for small groups in Korean, English or French can be arranged. Contact Benjamin Joinau at 011-9905-0696. The exhibition runs through Jan. 25.
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