Exhibition seeks to bring India and Korea closer

Exhibition seeks to bring India and Korea closer

While Lotus in India's national flower, it also symbolises creation, birth, liveability and reproduction in Korean culture.

At the Korean Culture Centre an ongoing art exhibition seeks to highlight several such parallels between the Indian and Korean cultures, in an attempt to bring them closer.

Titled "Secret Garden," the painting show by visual artist Ahn Hyejo, depicts the Korean culture through minimalist design.

Inspired by the Secret Garden in Korea's historical Changduk Palace, which was registered as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the exhibition shows tangible and intangible Korean traditional inheritance by reinterpreting them by the tool of 'design'.

Constructed during 1405-1412 for the private use of the King and the royal family, the garden consists of a lotus pond, pavilions, and landscaped lawns replete with trees and flowers.

"I thought that place is implying the Korean beauty and culture. In this place, the artificial and natural beauties are harmonized while revealing Koreans' aesthetic emotions," Hyejo says, who has been living in India for five years now.

In an interesting concept, while the exhibition is named "Secret Garden" from where it is inspired, yet the exhibits do not seem, even remotely, associated with the idea of a garden.

For Hyejo, "Secret Garden" is any place that speaks of Korean life and culture."I used 'Secret Garden' as my muse. Even though there is no garden in my art works, all my works are displayed in "Secret Garden". It means the Secret Garden can be any place that connects Korean culture to India."

For this exhibition, she says, Korean Culture Center in Delhi is the secret garden. Buddha, for instance, is another element that is common to the aesthetic sense of both the cultures. 

"Through this exhibition of traditional Korean culture and aesthetics, I wanted to become a bridge between Korea and India. So I chose the subject of Buddism for connecting the two nations. Buddism started from India and it has settled down well as religion and culture in Korea," she says.

In uncanny geometrical patterns, the exhibition chronicles the Korean way of life, in what may be called, a series of graphic stories. The artiste claims to have drawn inspiration from Post-impressionist French painter Paul Cezanne.

"He was fascinated by optics and tried to reduce naturally occurring forms to their essentials-the cones, the cube, the sphere," she says.

"I also wanted to use this basic way for expressing people. For example, I made same body shape and used it for creating people like 'Nongak(Samulnori)' and 'Hanbok'," she adds.

A lot of her paintings at the exhibition have been intri
guingly divided into squares with several objects like combs, brooch and a mirror placed within them.

This concept, she says, she has borrowed from the traditional Korean quilt- Jogakbo, which uses the technique similar to what is popular in India as patchwork.

"I tried to show Indians all combination tools about Korean art crafts and square is the most effective shape for getting the focus," she says.

Masks have had a long standing association with the Korean culture. They  were largely used in wars and the ceremonial burial rites that followed. In dance, however, human shaped masks continue to be used, often to offer recreation to common people after a hard day's work. Traditional Korean masks or Tal Mask also form an important part of Hyejo's exhibition.

"Special motives of Korean traditional mask 'Tal(Mask)' reflects Koreans' sorrows and resentment. While sometimes these mask dances, lampooned high nobility, at other times they comforted the poor people," Hyejo informs.

In an unconventional step that challenges the common practice at exhibitions where the viewers are not allowed to touch art works, Hyejo says, "My art works are almost made by graphic design. So you can take a picture with free mind and you can also touch them."The exhibition is set to continue till June 5. 

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