The art’s Spanish; the paper’s Korean

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The art’s Spanish; the paper’s Korean

Esther Villabolos, a Swiss-born Spanish artist based in Madrid, discovered hanji 10 years ago. For the next few years, she used it in her art, printing her lithographs on the traditional Korean rice paper.
Last September, Ms. Villabolos came to Korea, where she met with a hanji master to learn more about it. She brought three 30-meter rolls of the paper back to Spain with her.
Last Friday, an exhibition by Ms. Villabolos kicked off Project K, an exhibition series at the Spanish Embassy in Hannam-dong, Seoul. Organized by Cesar Espada, first secretary at the embassy, the series is intended to showcase the work of Spanish artists inspired by Korea; there will also be a joint exhibition by Korean and Spanish artists.
Ms. Villabolos’s exhibition, “K-Silence,” features video footage that the 32-year-old artist captured during two weeks of travel around Korea. She has turned the embassy’s basement exhibition hall into a labyrinth of high rice paper walls, onto which are projected her seemingly random images ― a serene image of a Buddhist temple; a televised image of a Korean traditional musician; dizzying footage shot from a moving bus at night.
“When I first came to Seoul and went out, it was like being lost in a labyrinth, so that was my first impression of the city. There was no reference to directions on Korean signs,” Ms. Villabolos recalled.
“Then I met Korean people, and I thought they were much like rice paper ―fragile on the outside but strong on the inside,” she said.
The hall adjacent to the main exhibition hall displays nine of her black-and-white lithographs. Ms. Villabolos says her monochromatic images are representations of “inner landscapes.”
Ms. Villabolos, whose work has been exhibited in New York, Madrid and Geneva, plans to show “K-Silence” in Spain later this year.
Meanwhile, Mr. Espada is organizing two more exhibitions for Project K for later this year. In May, the embassy will host a group exhibition by Korean and Spanish artists titled “Fusion Barcelona-Seoul.”
In July, the work of another Spanish artist, Ana Laura Alaez, who deals with issues of femininity, will be exhibited at the embassy.
“K-Silence” is being shown until March 12. Admission is free. The embassy exhibition hall is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on weekends.
The Spanish Embassy is located at 726-52 Hannam-dong, behind Pulhyanggi restaurant. The nearest subway station is Hangangjin station, line No. 6; use exit 2. Buses 402, 420, 144 and 902 stop near the restaurant. For more information, call (02) 794-3581~2.

by Ines Cho
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