Two exhibitions shed a little light on books as art

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Two exhibitions shed a little light on books as art


“Portraits of Korea,” a painting by Seo Yu-ra, is part of the Park Ryu Sook Gallery’s exhibition titled “From Cover to Cover,” which runs to Nov. 3. Ten artists are participating in the show. Provided by the gallery

While autumn is often called the “season of reading,” publishers say book sales are generally weak this time of year. And since the origin of the saying is unknown, one theory is that it was started by a publisher to boost sales.

Another attributes the “season of reading” to Joseon period (1392-1910) scholars, many of whom were also farmers and could read more after the harvest.

But regardless of publishers’ statistics and etymological uncertainty, autumn is a time of art exhibitions and festivals about books.

For example, the National Library of Korea in Banpo-dong, southern Seoul, is holding a solo show by Airan Kang. She is known for her “lighting book” series, in which plastic book sculptures are illuminated in various colors by LED lights.


And at the Park Ryu Sook Gallery in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, there is a 10-artist exhibition of art inspired by books.

Kang’s show, titled “Light Reading - Digital Book Library Project” - is divided into three parts. The first part is “Lighting Books,” with 123 sculptures.

The second part, “The Sublime,” and third, “Luminous Poem,” focus on interactive media art. In “Luminous Poems,” viewers place a lighted book of poetry on a shelf, then hear a voice read the poems as related images are projected on the wall.

“The exhibition will show the evolution of books with new technologies,” the library said in a statement.

As for the Park Ryu Sook Gallery’s exhibition, titled “From Cover to Cover,” media artist Lee Lee-nam, painter Kim Sung-ho and eight others express their views about books.

Photographer Koo Sung-soo has a photo of shelves crowded with varicolored books, which will remind viewers of chaekgado, a traditional genre of Korean painting that depicts shelves filled with books, stationery and antiques. Chaekgado paintings were very popular among late Joseon scholars.

But the books in Koo’s photo are all comics and popular fictions, raising questions about the values that books present and how they have changed.

And a painting by Seo Yu-ra is a hyperrealistic depiction of books about art. Seo has been painting books, including best sellers and steady sellers, to represent contemporary Koreans’ interests through a cross section of the country’s reading culture.

By Moon So-young []

* The show at the National Library of Korea runs to Nov. 30.

Admission is free. The library is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Go to Seocho Station, line No. 2, exit 6 and walk 10 minutes.

For more information, visit or call (02) 535-4142.

The show at Park Ryu Sook Gallery runs to Nov. 3. Admission is free. The exhibition is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The gallery is on the third floor of the Nature Poem building near Cheongdam Intersection. Go to Cheongdam Station, line No. 7, exit 9, and walk 10 minutes.

For details, visit or call (02) 549-7575.

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