This Chennai exhibition features 140 Korean works of art


From paint on canvas to ceramic jars and bowls, this exhibition spans across genres and techniques

Heavy, aggressive brush strokes of every colour show a horse in motion across a canvas. Lavishly layered paint captures the animal mid-leap, as the moon stares from a distance.

In another work, a parched white background — with fragments and cracks — contains a brown semi-circle, predominantly done on Hanji paper. Moving closer, one realises that there are inscriptions on the uneven brown surface.

Yet another work paints an out-of-focus picture of a casual day at the beach; replete with varying hues of the sky and a mirage.

These are just three of the 140 works by Korean artists, currently on display at Lalit Kala Akademi, at the Chennai Biennale 2019, organised by InKo Centre in association with K-art.

Many genres, many colours

The collection in this edition, titled Beyond the Frame, spans genres — traditional, contemporary, abstract, realist and surrealist — and aims to provide Indian audiences with a bird’s eye view of Korean art practices.

The walls of Lalit Kala Akademi are unusually crowded, with some of the works fighting for space. While few works are layered with meaning and technique (to the point that some of them take to optical illusion), others are honest retellings of everyday sights and traditional art practices.

Such as the one that recalls one of the happiest moments of artist Lee, Kang-Soo’s life — her wedding day. This work might appear ‘in the face’ at first glance, but the rendition, which features the bridesmaids along with the couple, is layered. She explains, “There is this moment of anticipation. In a traditional Korean wedding, the bride is not allowed to see the groom until the wedding day. Even the bridesmaids’ facial expressions speak of a certain sense of speculation,” Lee says.

The display is a mix of sculptures, ceramic works and paintings. For instance, Tears of Oedipus by Sung, Min-Ae is a bronze sculpture of a woman’s naked torso, her shoulders clenched, seeming to take a step forward.

A ceramic work resembles a jar painted in piercing black, with shoals of fish swimming amongst clouds of silver — this piece by Moon, Jae-Phil is titled Nirvana and employs the technique of lacquer with gold foil. The inside of the jar is a magnificent distortion of red and black that interweave to form a speckled pattern: a variant of the chiljang jar (a Korean work where lacquer is overlapped on painted hemp cloth).

Another series of six ceramic bowls by Heo, Sung-Bo display a rawness which is substantiated by geometric glazing on the exterior, while the insides of the bowls speak of beauty in imperfections; through blemishes and craters.

This edition of the Chennai Biennale has 111 flat paintings, two bronze sculptures and one set of ceramic bowls — called ‘Maksabal’ in Korean — along with the chiljang jar. Curator Injum Kim says, “These works express the various techniques like factual expressionist, abstract, and non-conceptual Korean traditional painting... The works are done with a focus on Korean philosophy and aesthetics.”

She adds, “The contemporary art movement in Korea since the mid-1980s is influenced by American contemporary art. We believe in creating a conversation by intermingling different cultures.”

Chennai Biennale 2019, Beyond the Frame will be on display at Lalit Kala Akademi, Greams Road until October 1.

(With inputs from Aditi Subramanian)

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 7:54:51 AM |

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