Artworks seek to define Korean identity

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Artworks seek to define Korean identity

Much of the discussion on cultural authenticity has been limited to it being an illusion in an increasingly hybrid society. But there is and always has been a continuing effort even in an age of complex varieties of gender, ethnicity and nationality to define one’s identity in some concrete way.
“The Scent of Korea,” an exhibition of art and fashion, which was put together by the Columns Art Center, tries to narrow down the taste and style of Korean tradition by asking artists and designers to provide a personal vision that reflects the mindset of Koreans.
The result is a mix of colors and patterns by artists, both Korean and foreign, that reference traditional imageries of Korea.
In “Palaazzo delle Scimmie” from the main exhibit, for example, Frank Stella attached a free-standing sculpture to layers of canvas painted with vivid colors ranging from marine blue to bright orange, often seen in the wooden decor of traditional Korean palaces.
Brian Mckee shows photographs of the interior of a Buddhist temple and Bill Thompson displays monochrome paintings of dark red on six wooden panels with slightly different tones in his “Mixer.”
In a separate section, the exhibit draws attention to Korean artists who work internationally using patterns, images and writings inspired by traditional Korean art.
Chun Kwang-young works with installations of Styrofoam wrapped with mulberry paper on wooden panels. Choi In-seon bases his painting on traditional panels made of tiny pieces of clothes sewn together. Kim Tchang-yeol, a painter who painted water drops for over a decade, presents work on mulberry paper.
The exhibit also features artists and designers who deal with Korean subjects. One section has costumes by famous Korean fashion designers; others delve into contemporary paintings and photography that explore the subject of clothing. Kay Kim exhibits costumes using designs by Italian artist Agosti Facchetti. A special satellite exhibition features portraits of Zhang Ziyi by Karl Lagerfeld, a fashion director of Chanel, a photograph of the designer taken in 1990 by German photographer Bernet Kruger and other photographs by Helmut Newton, one of the world’s most famous fashion photographers.


by Park Soo-mee

“The Scent of Korea” runs at the Daegu Art Center through Oct. 15. For more information call (02) 3442-6301.

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