05-08-2007 17:56
Korean Longings Revealed in Unique Modern Art Show


A piece by multimedia artist Lee Sang-hyun at the Gallery Sun in Seoul

By Tony MacGregor
Contributing Writer

Foreigners interested in finding out about the modern/historical longings, dreams and yearnings of Koreans could do well to visit an art exhibition by sculpture/multi media artist Lee Sang-hyun at the Gallery Sun in Seoul.

Symbolically located next to Gyeongbok Palace, the gallery houses the exhibition ``Nine Clouds Dream,'' a melange of 23 mostly vivid depictions integrating images from Korean mythology with Internet games and concepts from the novel ``The Nine Clouds Dream'' written in the 17th century by Korean exile Kim Man-joong.

The theme of the exhibition is Peach Blossom Paradise and in the majority of the art work are images of eight beautiful nymphs dressed in colorful, sometimes skimpy traditional Chinese costumes.

One of the most revealing works on the second floor of the four-story exhibition is a one-wall video of satellite-image depictions which zooms in from an image of the world to Asia, to Korea to Seoul and to Gangnam, the richest area in Korea symbolizing the materialistic utopia of Koreans.

As the satellite images zero in we overhear a conversation between the artist Lee Sang-hyun and the technician organizing the satellite images (English sub-titles) as they discuss attempting to depict and enter the Hyundai department store in Apgujeong, Gangnam.

``It's too close. It will fragment into pixels,'' says the technician.

``That's O.K.,'' says the artist, ``go in closer'' as the images disintegrate and fragment into a fuzzy, gray nothingness.

In contrast to the black and white satellite images, most of the large (four feet by six foot) art works are in vivid ``Andy Warhol'' colors depicting magical and historical scenes full of symbols such as a winged nymph with a dish of three peaches looking skywards while a multi-colored butterfly flies under a curved, modern steel structure that Hyundai Heavy Industries would be proud of.

The exhibition runs until May 16. To get there walk along the road on the right-hand side of Gyeongbok Palace for about five minutes. The gallery is on the right. For more information visit www.suncontemporary.com.

Tony.macgregor@gmail.com