‘Cool & Warm’ exhibit stretches art boundary

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‘Cool & Warm’ exhibit stretches art boundary

The surreal elements are laid out like a trash pile in the gallery: a walking robotic box, a fat pink couch placed inside a big black box, a photograph of a fish, an iron ball rolling around in an aquarium and a line of dog statues.
It’s an array of incongruities worthy of an anchovy-fueled hallucinogenic dream. To casual observers, the exhibition of contemporary Korean artists at the Sungkok Art Museum, titled “Cool & Warm,” pushes the definition of art.
Exhibit organizers call the pieces examples of “postmodernism in Korean art,” a dynamic movement that takes an esoteric approach to defining art in terms of day-to-day objects. Artists interpret visual cues from the outside world.
“Having an eye for the beautiful moment of opening is bliss,” says Rhee Bong-ki, one of the participating artists. “I want others to feel the same as they look at my artworks.”
Cool & Warm looks back on the past 10 years of contemporary Korean art. Individual artists generate a mix of ideas and forms based on “logic” and “intuition” and interpreted in the exhibit as “cool” and “warm.”
“Art is a means to express our feelings through pictures instead of words,” Shin Jeong-ah, the curator wrote in the exhibit’s catalogue. “Our desires and feelings are based in logic and are expressed in imaginary forms. It requires reasoning, power and technique.”
The exhibit features themes expressed in various forms ― photographs, DVDs, paintings, sculptures and installations. Everyday materials are endowed with new meaning with the deft touch of the artists. A box stationed in the middle of the gallery looks misplaced; however, as you walk up to it, a sensor triggers the robot inside and “A Trash Robot” by Ahn Gyu-cheol moves away from you. The artist says it represents human beings who aimlessly wander around.
In “One End” by No Sang-gyun, a shiny dish looks pretty, but what does it represent?
There isn’t a simple way to comprehend a single meaning. Postmodernists speak to spectators using their own codes and innate sensibility. They say viewers must use their senses and logic to gain meaning.
“Cool & Warm” runs through June 5 at Sungkok Art Museum. For more information call (02) 737-7650 or log on to www.sungkokmuseum.com. To go to the gallery, get off at Gwanghwamun station, line No. 5, exit 4, or Gyeongbokgung station, line No. 3, exit 7. The gallery opens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but is closed on Mondays. Admission is 3,000 won ($3).

by Stella Kim
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