Busan’s local art under spotlight Mar 05 2013
Sungkok Art Museum has taken up the role of showcasing regional art and artists that have largely escaped public interest for years.

“Major galleries paid greater interest to regional arts in the 1980s, inviting artists for exhibitions, but such exhibitions are rarely held now,” said Park Cheon-nam, head of curators at Sungkok Art Museum, at the opening reception last Friday. “We don’t see exhibitions that look deep into regional artists and their art world although many parts of the country are easily accessible now by train,” said Park.

Park chose Busan to launch the regional art exhibition series, which is being planned as an annual event. More places in Korea such as Jejudo Island, Gwangju, Incheon, Ganghwado Island and Ansan in Gyeonggi Province, and Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province are in the lineup for the following exhibitions. Artists living in foreign countries are also expected to be highlighted in the future.

“Busan is the place where alternative art institutions, rather than established institutions such as the city-run Busan Museum of Art and the biennale, are driving art development.

“Due to the dynamic art scene, local artists have been able to make a foray into international art circles,” Park said.

The current exhibition focuses on five mid-career artists including Kim Seong-yeon, Ryu Hoe-min, Bang Jeong-ah, Shim Jeong-hwan and Shim Jun-seop that are leading the shaping and enriching of the art culture in Busan. It features 40 paintings, installations and videos.

What’s notable in the exhibitions is Busan’s landscape characterized as a hilly region and artists’ different points of view of society and the art world.

Shim Jeong-hwan, one of the most representative mid-career artists in Busan, has portrayed the unstable life and uncertain future many people face in paintings in which reflections of the subject’s image are twisted.

Kim Seong-yeon created unfocused images in an attempt to depict his feelings that more things in life seem to be out of focus as the artist gets older.

“Many things surrounding me ― society or images ― have started to look unfocused to me lately,” said Kim at the opening reception. He made the images of his old paintings blurry to make a link to what he feels now.

Ryu Hoe-min portrays Busan’s landscape in Korean-style paintings, sidelined in the more popular contemporary art genres. His paintings reveal some unknown characteristics of Busan’s landscape, with hills and curvy roads. While the image of the city is more associated with the sea and the port, Busan is a mountainous region where one can frequently encounter winding streets and tunnels.

The exhibition “Lives and Works in Busan” continues through April 28 at Sungkok Art Museum in Jongno, Seoul.

For more information, call (02) 737-7650.

By Lee Woo-young

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