Charming interplay of ink and paint

Standing in front of the vertical canvas which has the image of a tree, one gets the impression that the dark branches in contrast to the white mossy background, has been painted.

But to the surprise of many, the pine tree with 3D effect is a photograph (archival print) that is printed on hanji (Korean paper) which is on display as part of the ongoing exhibition ‘Korean Impressions’.|

Showcasing works of six artists (including one Indian artist), the exhibition curated by Insang Song appears to be an expression of Korean culture through the medium of art - painting and photography, both on hanji paper that makes the exhibits stand apart from regular works.

Difficult to distinguish between photograph and painting, as one views Lim Chae Wook's images of Korean mountains and trees that he clicked in the classic format and printed on hanji paper, the beauty of nature comes alive.

The photograph of Mount Seorak is dark and detailed whereas that of Mount Deokyu is captivating and seems to have been shot in the early moments of sunrise.

Dongchun Lee's photographs, on the other hand, focus on the traditions and customs of ‘Jongga’ - the head family of Korea.

From the inaugural ceremony held for the eldest son at the head family house of Hakbong to the subject of shik (food) that has been passed down from ages, the photographer has captured a lot of significant moments from the clan's ife and living.

Dongchun Lee who has been photographing this family since seven years says, “My encounter with the members of Jongga has become not only a meeting with the distant past that made me what I am, but also the moments of great discovery of the necessities of life represented by food, clothing and shelter with which I and my forefathers have led our lives.”

A concept that is evident in his photographs of Seo-Won (a school) where Koreans are represented cherishing the lives of their ancestors through rites and rituals.

From the same ‘Jongga series’, the photograph of a woman bent over a table doing calligraphy is fascinating due to the play of bright colours. Contrarily, the paintings (which look like photographs) of ‘moon jar’ (white porcelain pots) by Choi Young Wook are colourless.

“This artist became popular after Bill Gates bought his artwork,” chips in Kim Kum Pyong, director of Korean Cultural Centre as one expresses curiosity about the artist.

But a perfect blend of traditional art and contemporary techniques are the paintings in ‘Fragrance’ series by Lee Kwang Su which depict Korean women in different dresses and moods.

In one of these, a red streak on black brightens up the whole painting whereas in another, a headgear made of pink flowers lends a feminine touch.

Flowers in hair are prominent in almost all his paintings and some are just present as outline rather than filled with colour, like the traditional Korean art.

To add to this, outside the gallery, the wall art or mural by Indian artist Farhad Hussain, depicting renowned Korean pop stars such as Psy add colour to the otherwise white paintings, providing perfect salute to a Korean
art experience. 

The exhibition is on display at the Korean Cultural Centre till June 30.   

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