Kim Dong-hak's quiver is marked by elaborate craftsmanship.
By Kwon Mee-yoo
Bows and arrows are some of the country's distinctive cultural properties. Their aesthetic beauty as craft work and a mind training tool still live through a few masters continuing to produce traditional bows, arrows and quivers.
"The Power of Arrows across Eras" at Gallery Ihn in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, a part of the annual Sulwha Cultural Exhibition series, sheds new light on the beauty and usefulness of bows. The exhibit is a part of Korean cosmetic brand Sulwhasoo's effort to promote traditional culture and contemporary art.
"Gungsijang," or master artisan of bows and arrows, Kim Yun-kyung's pieces show how the elasticity of a bow is achieved by laminating different materials such as wood and water buffalo horn. Other master artisans Yoo Young-ki and Yoo Se-hyun present a collection of arrows, differentiating in purposes. Jeontongjang, or master quiver maker, Kim Dong-hak offers his elaborately decorated quivers.
Ha Ji-hoon, furniture designer and the exhibit's art director, said these masters preserve the tradition, which could complement modern artisans and designers.
Modern works on display might look stale at first, mostly inspired by signature curves of the bows. However, Ha wants visitors to look at the works in a more conceptual way, not just visually.
As an art director and participating artist, Ha presented "Bow Chair," a unique rocking chair that has legs shaped like a bow. On the border of fine art and design, Ha was inspired from the laminated materials of a composite bow and used three layers of stainless steel to create the curved axle, reinforcing elasticity.
Ha Ji-hoon, art director of "The Power of Arrows across Eras," has designed furniture inspired by ancient bows. / Courtesy of Gallery Ihn
The chair is simple but it is surprisingly comfortable, representing Ha's philosophy in furniture. "We cannot use Korean traditional furniture these days because our lifestyle has become sedentary. How to adopt tradition in contemporary design is the responsibility of designers," he said.
Ha also sought diversity in the field of artists, so in addition to the furniture designer himself, the art director invited architects, a product designer, a photographer and an installation artist to this exhibit, embracing craft and contemporary art.
Architects duo Nameless came up with "Bow-Bow," a structure maintained by the tension created by two bow's curves, while designer Koo Byung-jun's "Still Life" was inspired by an arrow penetrating objects.
Park Cheon-wook's "Idle Direction" is a combination of a toy horse, arrows, bows, brooms and other rubbish and it is his interpretation of tradition and kitsch existing at the same time.
The Sulwha Cultural Exhibit sees a global potential and inviting an international artist for the first time this year could be a beginning. Ha asked Chinese photographer Dayuan to create works inspired by bows and arrows.
The exhibit runs through Nov. 9. Admission is free. For more information, visit Sulwhasoo's Facebook at www.facebook.com/sulwhasoo.kr or Twitter @Sulwhaculture.