Creator of massive paintings follows the football
When the 2006 World Cup in Germany rolled around, a similar painting of the Rhine River and German culture decorated the wall of a government office building in Germany.
This time artist Ju Yeong-ken is tackling South Africa, through an ink-and-wash painting of its Route 2.
Ju got a late start as an artist. After his military service and studying for several years, Ju finally got into the Institute of Fine Arts and Design Education at Hongik University.
“When I was around 30, I thought, ‘What might be the best theme to draw joyfully for my entire life?’ So starting in 1996, I painted mountains and streams along Route 1 for five years, and the 2002 World Cup was held just in time,” said Ju, who’s a football fan.
“From working as a teacher in an art institute to doing manual labor, there aren’t many jobs that I haven’t tried. And I paint with that in mind. Whenever I’m exhausted I say, ‘Kim Chung-ho made a map even in the old days,’ and settle down to work.”
There’s a reason he paints on a such a huge scale. “I like magnificent views when I paint scenery,” Ju said, explaining he usually paints on sheets that are 2.15 meters wide and 1.45 meters long. Because of this, getting his work exhibited can also be a hassle.
Based on a 20-day trip to South Africa in 2007, Ju has worked 15 hours a day on his latest piece, from videos and 4,000 photographs he took. The wall of his studio is full of pictures, with a projector screen hung on one wall.
Ju’s work is more than just another landscape painting.
“Combining South Africa’s national flower with ours, I tried to put some symbolic representations in to [help the viewer] understand the cultures of the two countries.”
Ju hopes to complete 2,010 sheets, each 300 by 200 centimeters. So far, he has done 1,700, and plans to keep painting after leaving for Africa.
“Now, I’m talking with a principal of one high school [in Africa about an exhibition]. If possible, I want to bring the big paintings that I’ve done for the Korea-Japan and Germany World Cups, but it’s hard to find a suitable place. The cost of exhibition and transportation is also a problem.
“Because I promised myself I would draw the path of the host country of the World Cup, I will bear [the difficulties], whatever happens.”
Ju’s already looking forward to the Brazil World Cup in 2014.
“Brazil is the country of soccer. I want to trace the path of Pele, and paint football icons that he left behind. I’ve already begun my research.”
By Jung Hyung-mo [email@example.com]