Artists’ murals highlight new Hongdae club

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Artists’ murals highlight new Hongdae club

Kim Eun-jung cannot believe how she and her friends survived the last week, prior to the grand opening of Q-Vo, a new hip hop club in Hongdae in northwestern Seoul.
Just hours before the opening on Friday night, she couldn’t see it happening. The entire hall was still filled with broken beams, metal scraps and electric wiring.
A handful of young artists, led by Ms. Kim, 24, and her partner, Seo Woo-tak, 23, covered themselves in coats, hoods and masks and spent days and nights painting the murals on five walls inside the club. The dust from drilling and fumes from the fresh paint that filled the air caused severe headache and nausea. Ms. Kim nearly fainted at one point, and went to see a doctor.
The most frustrating part, Mr. Seo says, was the lack of communication between the club’s eight proprietors and the artists. He points to part of a mural being hidden by chunky sofas and says, “If we had known where the sofas and tables would be positioned, then we would have planned the paintings better.”
“We had all the time to work on the paintings, but because we couldn’t decide which direction to go in, we had only two days to complete the entire work,” Ms. Kim says, removing her layered masks.
The last-minute rush came at a high price. Early Thursday morning, when the murals were scheduled to be finished, one of the artists fell and was rushed to the hospital. The cut in the artist’s hand required surgery and removal from the project.
Q-Vo is where the new Hodge Podge used to be. Hodge Podge in the old location, near the techno club MI, used to play all-American dance music by such artists as Hootie and the Blowfish and John Cougar Mellencamp. It had its own following for a few years, but after it moved to the Ohoo building last year it lost its attraction and eventually shut down.
As far as the concept is concerned, Q-Vo caters to a younger hip hop crowd. But the interior does not reflect the typical hip hop culture, covered with graffiti and funky scribbles. Along with bright red acrylic beams, silver stages and black furniture are the lively wall paintings that project the imagination of the artists.
“Bright colors and the overall mood are inspired by pop culture, while people in the paintings portray popular hip hop characters,” Mr. Seo and Ms. Kim explain.
The super-sized portrait behind the main stage is of Method Man, for example, and the mural in the back depicts mainstream musicians, such as Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. The two walls on the second floor reflect the two sides of New York City, the East and the West. On the whole, bold and vivid images of cool characters and cityscapes easily blend with Q-Vo clubbers, who are decked out like the characters in the paintings.
Ms. Kim is new to mural projects for clubs, while Mr. Seo says this is his third project. He has already painted murals in two Hongdae clubs. The two have another plan to collaborate on a new club opening near Ewha Womans University. Ms. Kim, who studied art in France for two years, is an installation artist, while Mr. Seo is currently a junior at Kaywon School of Art and Design.

by Ines Cho
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