For the exhibition “The Encounter between Kansong and Paik Nam June – Changing the World with Culture, ”the Kansong Art and Culture Foundation submitted a collection of major works by several artists including “Yeondam” Kim Myeong-guk, a master painter from the mid-Joseon period; “Hyeonjae” Sim Sa-jeong, a master painter of Namjonghwa (Southern School Painting); “Hosaenggwan” Choi Buk, known for his eccentric behaviors, landscape paintings, and portraits; and “Owon” Jang Seung-eop, a renowned court painter from the late Joseon period.
Along with the artworks included in Kansong’s collection, Paik Nam June Art Center also submitted about 30 works of art, including the materials on Paik’s activities as a member of the Fluxus in Germany in the 1950s; a video of a monumental performance Zen for Head in the 1960s; TV Buddha and TV Cello, his most renowned works in the 1970s; and remarkable art installations since the 1980s such as Video Chandelier, Elephant Cart, Rabbit Inhabits the Moon, and TV Clock.
We have tried to mix and match these artworks based on their correlation to each other instead of simply putting together great artworks. For example, Jang Seung-eop’s Gimyeongjeoljido (flower-and-vessel painting) is matched with Paik Nam June’s Video Chandelier. It was because as Gimyeongjeoljido is, in most cases, a good omen in Asia, chandelier is a signifier of “wealth” in Western culture. By juxtaposing a chandelier meaning wealth with a television showing our day-to-day life, we show how our perspectives on luck and good fortune have been changed over time.
Another example is Jang Seung-eop’s Odongpyewol (A Dog under a Paulownia Barking at the Moon) matched with Paik’s Rabbit Inhabits the Moon. In Jang’s work, Under a Paulownia, there are a beautiful golden chrysanthemum and a dog barking at the moon. Likewise, Paik’s carved-wood rabbit is also looking at the moon on the television. It is interesting to see both works are about the moon and an animal, which is a common yet special subject. Such matching maximizes the effect of the moon as a subject that stimulates our imagination by presenting an imaginary phoenix or a rabbit on the moon. In addition, The Road to Shu is paired with Elephant Cart. The Road to Shu is a painting about the difficult journey to Shu created by Sim Sa-jeong in his twilight years. Shu is a utopia reachable only after passing through winding roads between rugged mountains and billowing seas. Meanwhile, Paik’s Elephant Cart shows the development of the long-standing human history from the past where people had to endure traveling a great distance to exchange information to the present where we use information and communication technology to quickly and conveniently deliver information. Both works share the artists’ idealistic and positive attitude towards people and their brighter future.
[Contents of the Exhibition]
✔ Kansong Media Hall
1. Kansong Art Museum VR Experience: It is a VR experience hall which makes you to feel as if you were enjoying the exhibition at Bohwagak (now, Kansong Art Museum).
✔ Mix & Match : The encounter between Kansong and Paik Nam June
Symbols of Happiness, Longevity, and Wealth
Jang Seung-eop’s Gimyeongjeoljido (Flower-and-Vessel Painting) is displayed with Paik Nam June’s installation called Video Chandelier No.1. In its original form, Jang Seung-eop’s Gimyeongjeoljido is a ten-panel folding screen; however, in this exhibition, only four panels are exhibited.
The Moon That Stimulates Your Imagination
There is a famous quote from Paik Nam June: "The moon is after all the first TV." He created a number of works based on this and Rabbit Inhabits the Moon is one of them. In this work, a wooden rabbit is looking at the moon on television. We all know that there is no rabbit on the moon; however, we would still like to imagine a rabbit on the moon. It is foolish to discuss whether scientific truth has superiority over poetic imagination because it is our imagination that fills the TV created by scientific technology.
Our ancestors used to draw the moon. Odongpyewol (A Dog under a Paulownia Barking at the Moon) by “Owon” Jang Seung-eop is one of the paintings about the moon. These two great masters use the moon as their main subject to indicate that our imagination and poetic sensibility are not something of the past or the present but something that will continue for as long as humans exist.
Two Ways of Finding Utopia
The Road to Shu is a large national treasure-level hand scroll painting created by Sim Sa-jeong when he was 63 years old. The Road to Shu, which refers to the area around Sichuan Province and Guanxi in China, is so rough that a Chinese poet, LI Bai, once said “The road to Shu is harder than climbing the sky.”
Paik Nam June’s Elephant Cart is an artwork that shows the history of humanity. In the past, you needed to send a letter or travel a great distance in order to exchange information. According to Sim Sa-jeong, you have to always try your best despite difficulties, which will help you understand the meaning of life. Meanwhile, Paik Nam June suggests through his work that technology would provide people with a better future.
Zen for Head is Paik Nam June’s performance similar to a practice of Zen meditation where he dunked his head in a bowl of ink and dragged his hair like a brush down the paper.
It is one of his masterpieces showing the artist’s intention to sublimate the time in daily life into a part of Zen meditation.
Renowned for his distinctive and freewheeling brushwork, “Yeondam” Kim Myeong-guk was a painter from the Joseon period from King Hyojong to King Injo’s reigns. He loved drinking so much that he even had a penname “Chwiong” (meaning a drunken elderly man). He was a free spirit who was never bound by any norms or rules. His painting called Cheolgoe (Iron Crutch Li) is about Iron Crutch Li, one of the Eight Mortals of Taoism.
Hogyesamso (Three Laughs at Tiger Ravine) is a painting about a famous old story. During the Eastern Jin Dynasty, there lived a Buddhist monk, Huiyuan, who had vowed not to venture beyond the Tiger Ravine even when seeing off his guests. One day, his two good friends, a Confucian poet named TAO Yuanming and a Taoist priest named LU Xiujing, paid him a visit. Being a good host, Huiyuan accompanied them on their way out. As they walked, the three became engrossed in their conversation. It was not until their talk was interrupted by a tiger’s roar that they realized they had already crossed the Tiger Ravine. Then, they broke into spontaneous laughter. In addition, Schubert, Yulgok, and Charlie Chaplin are some of the most renowned works among Paik Nam June’s robot series. Schubert is a robot wearing a red cone which is in fact a gramophone speaker. Its body consists of nine vacuum tube radios, which signifies he is a musician. Yulgok has legs made of radios with rounded corners and its posture reminds us of seonbi (or literati) sitting up straight. Three overhanging antennas from its arms signify dopo, the overcoat for seonbi in hanbok. Charlie Chaplin is a robot materializing the comedian Charlie Chaplin and made of five antique television monitors and bulbs, which makes us reminisce about the silent film era.
Design Museum on the 2nd floor, Museum
10:00-19:00 from Tuesday to Sunday / Closed Mondays
8,000 KRW for adults, 6,000 KRW for students, 6,000 KRW for groups of adults (20 or more people), and 4,000 KRW for groups of students (20 or more people)
D281, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-197
Exit 1 of Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station (Lines 2, 4, and 5)
Closest from the B2 level entrance to Oullim Square, the Design Market, the Design Lab, and the Museum
Exit 2 of Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station (Lines 2, 4, and 5)
Closest to the first floor entrance of the Design Lab and the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park entrance (near Gallery Moon and underground parking lot)