Gemstone dogs and other variations

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Gemstone dogs and other variations

At first glance, the exhibition “Truth in Nureongi” may seem too mundane to attract attention. But for dog lovers, the 19 paintings and two sculptures currently on display at Jang Eun Sun Gallery in Insa-dong, central Seoul, are unique portrayals.
Nureongi, an affectionate nickname for a pet dog, equivalent to “doggie,” is the central theme of the show. “It’s the year of the dog, so we chose dogs as a guiding theme to start the Chinese Year of the Dog. Although the dog is such a popular theme, the artists participating in the exhibition created accessible but distinctive works,” said chief curator Jang Eun-sun. “Our aim is for visitors to come closer to art and feel comfortable about paintings.”
Eight participating artists ― Cho Myong-ryong, Kim Man-su, Chun Jun-yeup, Paik Yoon-ki, Oh Myung-hee, Lee Young-su and Lee Suk-ju ― address a commonplace theme while bringing a personal touch to the subject matter.
In a colorful, oriental-style painting titled “The Third Spring Trip to My Home Town” by Kim Sun-du, a dog trotting on a winding road appears very small in the center. What’s unusual about the composition is that the tree behind the dog is much bigger than the trees in front of the animal, as if the painter was toying with the rules of perspective. By doing so, Mr. Kim wanted to convey nostalgia for his hometown, Jeongnamjin in South Jeolla province.
“I wanted to remember the springtime trips and relate those fleeting moments in my work. I used powdered pigments extracted from soil as the material to describe that particular season of my hometown,” Mr. Kim said. To paint the red soil of the barley field, the artist painted over the section repeatedly to create a layered look with deep colors.
On first impression, “A Gaze” by Lee Young-su seems to have been painted using fine sand, but the actual material is a powder made from gemstones including rubies, crystals and colored pearls. “Every gemstone has its own color, and the feeling delivered from the color created by this powder is quite special. I wanted to grasp the very instant of a motion and make that moment eternal and valuable. Gemstones are perpetual and very precious,” said Mr. Lee, who declined to say how much the gemstone powder costs.
The oil paintings by Lee Suk-ju express a personal attachment to dogs. Mr. Lee has been well known for his realism ― his works often make subjects of horses and clocks in a very straightforward way. By doing so, he intends to express the loveless cynicism and impermanence he feels about society. Three pieces in the exhibit are quite different from his previous work. In the heavily textured oil paintings dogs are seemingly humanized ― they are shown speaking, picking up fallen leaves and playing with a stuffed animal. Mr. Lee owns three dogs, each of which he has come to regard as a person who taught him everlasting love ― a love so strong that it made him stop eating dog soup. “I used to love dog soup so much. Sometimes when I walked the streets alone during the hot summer, I was crazed with hunger for the soup,” he confessed.

by Jin Hyun-ju

The exhibition runs until Jan. 16. Admission is free. Jang Eun Sun Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The nearest subway station is Jonggak, line No. 1, exit 3. Walk to the Insa-dong main street. Turn right at the corner of Sudo Pharmacy and walk straight about 150 meters. Jang Eun Sun Gallery is opposite Kyungin Art Gallery. For more information, call (02) 730-3533 or visit the Web site,
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