Pity, mercy and artwork meet in Daejeon

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Pity, mercy and artwork meet in Daejeon

DAEJEON ― “Our mothers abhor the war.”
As a visitor to a retrospective of French artist Georges Roualt’s work read the title of this artwork, others in the museum turned to look at the painting. A sign that read, “It would be so sweet to love” was attached to the image of a mother and child holding each other tightly.
An old man standing before another artwork, “Living, an arduous job...,” stared at the naked middle-aged man in the picture for quite a while. The collection of black and white copperplate prints was titled “Miserere,” meaning “to have mercy or pity.” The somber pace of the viewers filing past the works seemed to mirror the solemn steps of pilgrims.
The Daejeon City Museum of Art in Mannyeon-dong, the western area of the city, is showing paintings and sculptures by Rouault (1871-1958) until the 27.
Clowns, prostitutes, people from the slums and Jesus Christ were the subjects that Rouault most often portrayed in his work. The painter, who spent his life with needy people, understandably made meaningful insights into the lives of the poor. His perspective was rendered into his paintings as clear, beautiful eyes, round faces and thick, smooth lines.
The small girl in a circus troupe in one of his paintings was the Virgin Mary in Rouault’s eyes. To Rouault, the most important occupation was that of a farmer who sows seeds in a barren field. He mocked judges and court prosecutors who weighed human beings as ludicrous rogues in one painting, to present his belief that when one has integrity, one becomes more modest. Four exhibition rooms feature Rouault’s work, including the “Miserere” series and 240 other works created by the master at different points in his life.

Many of Rouault’s paintings also focus on the life of Christ. On the afternoon of Aug. 3, Father Jung Yang-mo lectured at the museum on the correlation between “Miserere” and biblical phrases. Shortly after, Father Jung sat down to meditate in front of the last painting in the exhibition, “Christ on the Cross (crucifixion).” A group of Buddhists, including the Venerable Dou-bub, also attended the exhibition, observing each artwork carefully. Rouault’s statue of the head of Christ breaks down the boundaries between Christ, Buddha and Mohammad.
A great admirer of Rouault since his youth, the poet Kim Ji-ha interpreted “Miserere” as “a light appearing out of the dark and pleading for grace during suffering.” The art history scholar Kang Woo-bang, a professor at Ehwa Womans University, said this about the show: “The exhibition is well-structured enough [for viewers] to understand the whole current of Rouault’s style of art.”

by Jung Jae-sook

The exhibition hours are 10 a.m to 7 p.m. On Fridays, the museum is open until 9 p.m at the Daejeon City Museum of Art in Daejeon, Mannyeon-dong. Tickets are 6,000 won (about $6) for children and 10,000 won for adults. To get to the museum by car, take the Gyeongbu Expressway until you reach the Bukdaejeon IC. Turn toward the National Government Complex then turn left at Mannyeon intersection after passing Daedeok Bridge. Make a U-turn in front of the Pyeongsong Youth Center. The subway also runs to the museum from Daejeon and Seodaejeon stations.
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