Soak in the grandeur of the Himalayas

magnificent strokes

A typical Pahari tune rendered through flute plays in the background as viewers feast their eyes on a painting of an old man’s face against the great Himalayan mountain range.

The fine criss-crossed lines on the man’s face (done with the back of the paintbrush) define his wrinkles of age and experience. But before his larger than life demeanour, the mountains appear dwarfed and less overwhelming. 

The painting is therefore aptly titled ‘Face of Himalayas’just like the exhibition which has works of Korean artist Myoung Jae Wook. Ask him why he chose the Himalayas as his subject and pat comes the reply – “They are the reason why I am here in India!” 

Living and working here since 18 years, Myoung heads to the Himalayas for two months every summer and unleashes his creative sensibilities in the lap of nature. His works explain his mountain expeditions since he has taken great pains to not just paint, but also to develop his own technique and even create miniatures.

In the first few paintings, the artist chooses to focus on human faces and keeps the canvas-size fairly big. He paints a young man against a similar backdrop of the great Himalayas. The previously described old man is also painted as a miniature, but he is shown facing the mountains in this particular picture. It appears contrasting to the first artwork due to the size of the Himalayas being bigger than the man in this one. 

On another big canvas, a man is shown sitting on a bench outside his house near a high peak (probably the Mount Everest), soaking in the beauty of nature. “This is my own picture,” says Myoung as one realises the obvious similarity between his summer trips to the Himalayas and the painting. The inclusion of the dog in the frame adds an interesting facet but what enhances the painting is the glistening golden yellow tip of the mountain peak in perfect alignment with the yellow exteriors of the house!

Jumbled in curation, there are also miniatures which have either the same title as the exhibition name or are untitled. An exception among these is the name ‘Chomoriry’. “These paintings are a tribute to the beauty of Chumar region in Ladakh,” says the artist pointing out to the various formations that clouds make in the sky in this part of India. “Look, this one appears like a fiery red animal,” he says pointing to one of the landscape miniatures with serene blue and white sky on a dull green land. 

In complete juxtaposition is his miniature painting of a chirpy young girl (covered in woollen clothes from head to toe) and of a young monk shown in a pensive mood. A bigger canvas depicting young monks looks almost 3D due to the artist’s efforts of making sketches before the oil paint dries on paper.  

But the most appealing is ‘Sacred Journey’ where a hermit is shown treading the path to the Himalayas all by himself. While all these are in oil, there are two frames concealing leaves that evoke curiosity. “These are Bodhi leaves,” informs Myoung adding, “I apply oil on them and let them dry for 20 days before painting.” One such leaf takes a month to look like what it is now!

To see what this leaf and other paintings are in original, head to the Korean Cultural Centre where the exhibition is on display till October 10.    

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