A window to Korean culture

Secret Garden’ is an exhibition showcasing a garden located in the Changduk Palace of Joseon Dynasty which is well known in Seoul. The exhibition showcases the characteristics of Korean Traditional Garden Culture. In this garden the artificial and natural beauties are harmonised with Koreans’ aesthetic emotions. Special motif of ‘Secret Garden’ is the Korean traditional mask ‘Tal’ reflecting Koreans’ sorrows and Korean traditional percussion quartet ‘Samulnori’.

Secret Garden is being held at Korean Cultural Centre, Lajpat Nagar 4, till June 5.
Talking to Metrolife about the exhibition, Ahn Hyejo says, “I have been living in India for the last five years. Many people have shown interest regarding Korean culture and Korean way of life.This inspired me to design graphic stories about Korean culture. So, it
is wonderful to get a room to display artwork reflecting Korean culture.”

Ahn, is MD of Applied Art Department at Hanyang University and is presently
pursuing PhD at the same university.

“‘Secret Garden’ is the most well-known royal garden of the last Korean kingdom Rhee Dynasty. It is special, as it cannot be considered as grandiose as royal gardens of most countries. It contains only a few artificial facilities, and the garden is full of natural beauty,” says Ahn.

According to her, the garden is a symbol of the humble attitude of the royal family for their people. “My exhibition is about the ordinary peoples’ routine lives, and the concept of ‘Secret Garden’ is well matched with my work. So Secret Garden is metaphor for me. It is not only the name of a place but also conveys the meaning of this exhibition,” says Ahn.

She explains that some years ago, when Korea was a very poor country, most people lived on agriculture products. Art was mostly for the peasants or farmers and farmers’ music was played in the rice fields. ‘Farmers’ band’ for the farmers is similar to the military band for the soldiers. “My design work is interested in the ordinary peoples’ lives, concentrating on dances of energetic farmers’ band and the mask dance,” she states.
Ahn explains her ‘Pattern of Mask’, a sculpture which is further painted on by acrylics. The ceramic is from India. She says that during the course of this artwork, she met many Indian artists whose inferences she incorporated into an abstract piece.

“Kalicharan Gupta tries to connect India and Korea through his art. For 25 years, his efforts and arts have inspired me,” says Ahn. She also spoke of Bhawna Chauhan (ceramic artist). “She helped me to understand Indian ceramics,” says Ahn.

“Sushank Kumar(sculptor), already has experience on ceramics, and I got wonderful advice from him on sculpture during my work for ‘Pattern of Mask’.

Ahn says that people seek new styles, ideas or media according to their fancy. “I don’t have much experience in Indian art, but when I watch Indian animations like Krishna, Chhota Bheem etc, the mythology intrigues me a lot.”

“It’s very interesting. May-be I could get a muse from Indian mythology or history,” she says.

“I think weather influences ones’ preference in colours.

It looks to me, Indians love vivid colours, whereas Korean love calm (paler) colours,”
she remarks.

Ahn says that she is interested in travelling across India. “I’m interested in ‘patterns’. In my opinion, the ‘patterns’ signify a country’s identity. Someday, I want to analyse Indian patterns and would compare them with Korean ones.”

“Another thing that intri­gues me about India is the ‘dance’. In Holi or Diwali, I
see Indians dancing in their traditional dresses, saris etc,” she says.

The art work regarding India’s National Flower, ‘Lotus’ is quite meaningful in view of the relationship between Korea and India. Besides these, Ahn is showcasing her various experiences extending the scope of design and impressions with connecting ceramics. She is, as she puts it, ‘showcasing intangible Korean traditional inheritance’ through her exhibition.

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