Posted : 2017-05-21 21:52
Updated : 2017-05-21 21:52

Art gives final touches to casino resort Paradise City

Subodh Gupta's "Ray" / Courtesy of Paradise City

By Kwon Mee-yoo

Paradise City, opened in April, has over 2,500 artworks on display, but it is not an art museum or a gallery. The new integrated casino resort next to Incheon International Airport has works of the world's top artists as well as those who represent Korea's dynamic contemporary art scene.

The first phase includes a five-star hotel, convention halls, restaurants ― including the two Michelin-starred Imperial Treasure ― and a foreigner-only casino. The next phase is being built and will roll out in 2018, adding a shopping mall and an outdoor theater to the resort on 330,000 square meters of land.

In addition to its vast size, cutting-edge facilities and geographical advantage being close to the Asia's aviation hub, a large collection of artworks on display at the resort draws visitors.

"The concept of the resort is 'art-tainment.' Paradise City aims to be the K-style destination and the resort is a big gallery of Korean art," Jun Dong-whi, senior manager of the Paradise Culture Foundation, said. "The interior is designed to be completed with the artworks. There are some 2,700 artworks installed throughout the resort."

The artworks are not labeled, but the nameplates are on their way. The resort also will soon release a mobile application explaining the pieces.

Damien Hirst's "Golden Legend"

From Hirst to Kusama

The first artwork that greets visitors to the first integrated resort in Northeast Asia is Choi Jeong-hwa's "Golden Crown," installed on top of a fountain in front of the gate. The sculpture represents the point where the kitschiness of the artist meets the splendid casino resort.

The centerpiece of Paradise City's lobby is British artist Damien Hirst's "Golden Legend." Hirst commands some of the highest prices of any living artist in the world and is known for his works exploring the areas of intersection between science, religion and belief.

The Pegasus-shaped sculpture ― half showing gold skin of the mythical winged horse and the other half showing flesh and musculature beneath the skin ― is a metaphor to the almighty dollar.

Other Hirst works are also on view at the hotel. At the Diamond Lounge in the casino wing is Hirst's "Spin Painting," commissioned for the lounge. The artist added diamond dust onto the painting created on a spinning drawing machine to match with the room's name.

Lee Kang-so's "Serenity" painting series are at each side of the lobby and Peter Halley's "Paradise Lost," inspired by modern-day networks and communication, is matched with the marble pattern wallpaper by Lauren Clay titled "Between Urras and Anarres" behind the hotel's front desk.

"Great Gigantic Pumpkin," a yellow and black dotted pumpkin sculpture by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, is in the resort's "Wow Space," which connects the casino, convention and family wing.

Mioon's "Golden Carousel"

Above the iconic pumpkin hangs "Your Crystal" by Korean artist duo Mioon, which consists of Kim Min-sun and Choi Moon-sun. The chandelier-like installation is in fact kinetic and runs every 20 minutes, creating a reverse diamond shape.

Mioon also created "Moving Gate," another kinetic piece made of crystals that is placed on the way to the casino, and "Gold Carousel," in the middle of the casino. The rhythmical and elegant movement represents a sign of good luck.

Park Chan-girl's "Sliced Images," an interpretation of the famous Michelangelo sculpture David, is installed outside the casino wing where VIPs are dropped off.

Jun said about half the artworks are newly commissioned by the resort to go well with the space. Korean painter Lee Sea-hyun, known for his red-hued landscape series "Between Red," unveils his signature landscapes in unprecedented colors of blue and green.

Works of major Korean artists are displayed at the elevator corridors of each floor, such as Kim Ho-deuk, Kuk Dae-ho and Jang Seung-taik. Among the collection, about 2,400 of the works are assigned to the hotel rooms, adding to the artistic atmosphere. Prints of renowned artists Lee U-fan, Park Seo-bo and Kim Tschang-yeul can be found in the bathrooms.

Choi Jeong-hwa's "Golden Crown"

Selfie-worthy spots

Some visit Paradise City to bet at the casino or participate in conventions, while others enjoy luxurious rooms and other facilities. However, some people just come to the Incheon resort to take pictures as the resort complex's artistic qualities attract social media-savvy people.

Robert Indiana's pop art sculptures "LOVE" and "NINE" are installed on the sunlit corridor to the Spring Garden and many people take selfies in front of the colorful letters.

Robert Indiana's pop art sculptures "LOVE"

There are photo spots outside too. In the Art Garden, Indian artist Subodh Gupta's gigantic installation "Ray" catches visitors' eyes. Made of some 4,000 stainless-steel kitchen utensils, the four-meter-tall sculpture shines brightly under sunlight.

In the convention wing, Je Yeo-ran's "USQUAM NUSQUAM" boasts impromptu brushstrokes yet intense colors, while "Paradise Proust," a huge and colorful armchair designed by Alessandro Mendini, adds funkiness to the space.

French artist Paul Alexis, who re-creates iconic images by superposing painted metal sheets, produced faces of Korean celebrities such as actor Kim Soo-hyun on commission.

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