Friday, May 16, 2008

Korean art's got it goin' on

that title is my attempt to look forward rather than backward. "last day in BA" sounds just too lugubrious. yet, last day it was, and i spent it walking the city with marcia and lee. i posted an album of photos at the usual place, along with captions that tell the story.

what i don't mention there is the coolest thing we stumbled upon: a show called "caramelo de menta / peppermint candy" at the museo nacional de bellas artes. i realize i haven't mentioned any of the art we've seen while here, mostly because i can't be very articulate about it. MALBA, museo de arte latinoamericano de buenos aires, was spectacular. it had all the familiar european twentieth-century art movements represented, but from underneath. abstract expressionism looks startlingly different in a cultural context with a rich vocabulary for colour. i had read about xul solar, the watercolourist, but -- shawna, don't tell robert! -- i thought, eh, what can you really do with watercolours. (okay, i know, robert lemay paints in oils. marvelously.) anyway, i was not at all prepared for watercolour cubism. take a moment and look at xul solar's stuff. and, if you want to see whether "todo es posible," cecilia szalkowicz, the photographer, will convince you.

anyway, back to yesterday: we stumbled upon "caramelo de menta" quite by accident, but what a show! it's been traveling, so the best capsules are not from the museo de bellas artes. if you want an overview, look here, here and here. new york, of course, was all over this stuff three or four years ago, but for those of you for whom, like me, this is brand new, some of the artists are:
  • do-ho suh. probably the most famous of the artists represented, having shown at the venice biennale nearly ten years ago. his uni-forme was installed in the main gallery, as well as some of his large-format acrylic paintings. there's a pbs documentary on him, but you can get a good sense of his other work from this blog.
  • yong-suk kang photographed what's left of a US bombing range
  • inhwan oh had an installation in incense
  • oksun kim showed evocative photos of intercultural couples (sorry, that's a lame link but it's the best i could find)
  • sang-gil kim, maybe my favorite, meditated on internet cultures: burberry tribe, anyone?
  • jung-ho oak was born in 1974. i'm having a hard time forgiving that. all these artists were really, really young.
  • kang young-suk, photographer
  • youngwhan bae projected a video image of green grass seen through a barred basement window
  • sanghee song offered a diptych representing the deaths of two teenagers on a korean beach; it's the bottom image here. i would have needed more context to really understand this one, but it is really something to see two girls in school uniforms shot through the heart with arrows.
  • june-bum park's puzzle is up on youtube!
  • sung-soo koo offered these large format, garish images of seoul street scenes. talk about a culture with a rich vocabulary for colour.
there were a few others -- a photo installation of 32 families living in 32 identical apartments in a single building, statues of giant police officers like you might see at west edmonton mall, a video of koreans singing the national anthems of other countries (picture it, a korean schoolgirl doing "god save the queen"). i came away feeling like i'd just eaten a peppermint candy: piqued, excited, whet.

1 comment:

Shawna Lemay said...

the water colour cubism link is excellent. it IS surprising! love it.
yr devoted reader,