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The Korean experience

Alphonso Aruldoss was in Seoul recently to showcase his paintings. He talks about his experiences

ALPHONSO ARULDOSS, senior artist and former principal of the College of Arts and Crafts, Chennai, loves to travel. "I feel travelling to China, Egypt, Europe and other countries inspires me to evolve a personal idiom," says Alphonso. A few months ago, he went to Seoul as a member of the governing body of the Asian Christian Art Association (ACAA) to attend its silver jubilee celebrations held at the Yonsei University.

A quarter of a century ago, the association was launched by Dr. Masao Tanaka in Japan, who continues to be its honorary chairman. Currently, the association's president is Dr. Judo of Indonesia. The objective of the association, headquartered in Jogjakarta, is to promote cultural activities in Asian countries by organising exhibitions and peformances. It also works towards creating an awareness of Asian art, enabling an exchange of ideas among artists and art lovers. The ACAA meeting is held every year in different Asian countries. The three-day meeting this year included visits to arts colleges, the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Folk Arts in Seoul, as well as music and dance performances at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts. This centre also houses a gallery for displaying works of art.

The celebration coincided with the annual art exhibition in which about 150 artists showcased their paintings. Four delegates — Alphonso of India, Watanabe of Tokyo, He Qi of Beijing and Hanna Varghese of Kuala Lumpur — were invited to exhibit their works along with the others. Jae Im Kim, a contemporary woman artist and committee member, Korean Artists Association, also participated. This year's exhibition consisted of traditional and contemporary Korean art as also Chinese and Korean calligraphy.

Jai Kook Cho, professor of religion, arranged an exhibition of Alphonso's drawings at the Songnam Institute at the Yonsei University for a week, which was received well.

"The works of the Korean artists can be divided into traditional painting on paper in black ink and contemporary art in acrylics, oils, multimedia and collage. I picked up a lot of ideas from these paintings," says Alphonso adding, "there are several women artists interested in contemporary art in Korea. There are well equipped arts colleges, exclusively for women, which have produced a number of talented artists. In fact, art is introduced even at the school level." "The visit gave me an opportunity to learn about Korean culture and how each culture can influence the other. For instance, the Museum of Folk Arts was quite intriguing. The garden sculptures representing their native art forms reminded me of the Naga cult of South India. The figures were sculpted out of different types of wood, some of which were painted bright.The facial expressions and the character of the eyes were very similar to Rajasthani folk dolls with linear forms," says Alphonso.


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