Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea

Located next to Seoul Land, Seoul Grand Park, and the Seoul Zoo, the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon can seem somewhat distant and out of the way in comparison to it’s counterpart museum in downtown Seoul. However, despite the distance, there were several pieces from its permanent collection that made a lasting impression.

In the modern art world, I discovered that Korea came very late. One example is that oil painting was not introduced to Korea until the end of the Joseon period in the late 1890’s, and actual art activity wasn’t set until 1910 by the artist Ko Hui-dong. And despite the fact that I was able to notice that Korean abstract painting was decades behind to that of Europe and the US trends, it should not discount what Korean artists have brought to the modern art world. In the last 20-30 years thanks to structural changes to late-industrial society, the mood arising out of the cold war, and the democratization in the region, many art circles made a turning point that resulted in various expressions in artwork that had never been seen before in Korea. Periodically labeled as the period of “Open Interpretation,” several great pieces can be viewed at the museum. Thanks to the museum website I was able to include a few of the paintings that are exhibited at the museum, but beyond this it was practically impossible to take any photos inside the galleries.

“Village Crane” (1995)
-Whang In-kie

“Tree of Desire” (1988)
-Yoo Yeun-hee

These paintings are fairly pleasant to view, but I was not drawn to them as much as I was to this particular painting (below) by the Korean artist named Kim Bo Hyeon. I stared at this abstract painting for quite a long time and even later returned to it for a second viewing. It’s quite interesting and cool, what do you think?

“Untitled” (1957)
-Kim Bo Hyeon

Well, despite the fact that it was camera lock-down mode inside each of the galleries (which is normal) and every step I took was thoroughly scrutinized by museum proctors standing and/or walking back and forth amid the museum corridors, I’m glad I was able to find a picture of the painting that made the most impact on me. While gazing into this painting for a long time, I think I  made everyone’s heart stop when I abruptly reached into my pocket to view a text message.

Inside and outside the museum there were also several large art pieces and sculptures that were quite interesting to see, especially the TV-related art piece called “The more, the better” by Nam June Paik and the sculpture called “Entering the Mountain” by Ryu In.

Despite the distance from downtown Seoul, I found this museum to be enjoyable and would recommend it to art museum aficionados out there.

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This entry was posted on June 6, 2012 by in South Korea and tagged , , , , , , , .

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“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves.”

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