Shows offer painted reality and photographic fantasies

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Shows offer painted reality and photographic fantasies

In a way, “Painting S(e)oul” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” pose an interesting juxtaposition of dualities.
For years, photography and paintings have been used to serve different meanings ― paintings romanticized their subject while photography politicized it. Paintings praised beauty; photography raised questions about the meaning of beauty. So what would it be like to exceed the traditional boundaries of both mediums and blur the line between fiction and reality?
In fact, that’s exactly what six artists from Korea and Germany have done in separate exhibits at Kukje Gallery, in Seoul.
Five painters from Germany, known for using images of everyday urban settings, feature in “Painting S(e)oul.” Jeong Yeon-du, an installation artist who depicts the fantasy of ordinary Koreans in photography ― such as middle-aged couples in glitzy dresses and suits at amateur ballroom dancing competitions ― delves into hope and nostalgia in “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”
Eberhard Havekost, a painter from Dresden, looks at motifs that have become cliches in modern society. Works by Frank Nitsche challenge the boundary of painting by visualizing speed and mechanical functions of modern inventions in a painterly form, as if to mimic the photography. Dubbed “action paintings,” Nitsche’s works are often made up of strict geometrical shapes that “exclude human emotions.”
Tatjana Doll shows such banal modern items as a road sign and an escalator. Images in Thoralf Knobloch’s work are rooted in the artist’s surroundings. Slawomir Elsner paints post-modern society in Eastern Europe.
While the paintings subvert romantic visions of art by depicting images that are real and concrete, Jeong Yeon-du does the opposite by photographing what doesn’t exist.
In his latest series, “Location,” which is part of this show, the images include a man fishing in a lake surrounded by mountains with his feet in the water, a couple dancing flamenco against glamorous city lights and a road with falling leaves.
On closer viewing, though, viewers can see that part of the background is constructed sets, installed alongside real landscapes.

by Park Soo-mee

“Painting S(e)oul” and “Are Young Lonesome Tonight” runs through June 30 at Kukje Gallery. For more information, call (02) 735-8449.
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