Chennai Chamber Biennale brings a collection of contemporary Korean art to the city

Even as the world wakes up to the charm of contemporary Korean culture (movies, television series, and now K-pop), the Chennai Chamber Biennale, featuring 15 of Korea’s best artists with a whopping 134 canvases spread over two floors, offers lovers of art a peek at the strides Korean art is taking.

With a heady mix of genres and styles, — from American modernism to traditional Korean art, from a wildly colourful take on urban living to sober portraits of hazy winter evenings — the exhibits capture a wide range of emotions and offer great insight into the contemporary artistic practices of Korea.

Sheer diversity

A pair of paintings of identical black cats with different neck ties, a pair of images of wind blowing on either side of a house, a painting that features a sea of humanity heading towards a small pool of water while a vast ocean lies behind — a meditation on finding oneself, paintings with titles that reflect a sense of humour, art that explores the human condition and the mind and, of course, the joy and beauty of Nature… there’s something for everyone. Technique and mastery aside, the exhibit also showcases the confidence of an art world that has arrived and impresses with its sheer diversity.

Jung-Il-Jin, whose work Fire is on display, has been painting for 20 years now and his fascination for India has brought him to this exhibit. “I have held joint exhibitions with an Indian artist in Korea,” he says. On the traditional art of his country, he says, “If you would like to compare, it’s much like Chinese art, making use of black ink and we have a few of those too here.” Of his own work, he adds, “Fire is a gift that connects the Earth with the Heaven. It is what lies between the two, and holds a very sacred place in our lives.”

K-Art (which curated the show), Lalit Kala Akademi and InKo Centre with Hyatt Regency, Chennai, have organised the show, the first in a series of bi-annual exhibitions. The show, according to organisers, takes its cue from music and is an “orchestrated presentation of a focused collection of contemporary artworks from Korea”.

“The 15 artists are also offered a chance to explore Tamil culture with guided tours to Mahabalipuram, DakshinaChitra and Kapaleeshwarar Koil in the hope that it will add to their artistic journey,” says Rathi Jaffer of InKo Centre.

(Chennai Chamber Biennale is on at Lalit Kala Akademi, Greams Road, till July 7)