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Posted : 2013-05-08 20:40
Updated : 2013-05-08 20:40

Painter to exihibit 'Arirang' art in US

Painter Kim Jung poses with one of his Arirang-themed paintings. Kim plans to exhibit all 35 such paintings at the Korean Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the placing of Arirang on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. / Korea Times


By Kwon Ji-youn

Kim Jung, a 73-year-old painter, will exhibit all 35 of his Arirang-themed paintings at the Korean Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., from May 30 until June 6.

The exhibition, titled "Kim Jung — The Washington Arirang," will celebrate the inscription of Arirang on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Arirang is a folk song that contains Korean sentiment in its entirety, including joy, anger, sorrow, and pleasure. Kim has been "painting Arirang" for some 40 years.

"I hope this exhibition will promote and raise awareness about other Korean traditional cultural heritages as well," Kim said.

Kim first heard Arirang when his father would hum the song to himself while drinking. But when Kim served in the army, he was positioned in Gangwon Province, where he stumbled upon another version of it, one that was somewhat deeper and more characteristic of the region. In fact, the song has several regional versions.

"This Arirang and the Arirang my father used to sing began to overlap, producing a rather poetic sentiment," Kim said.

It was then that Kim attempted to translate the song into tangible paintings. But, faced with many difficulties in converting abstraction into concrete art, he chose to roam the country, listening to the many regional versions of Arirang and getting to know the people who sang them.

"I may only have 35 complete works, but I've painted Arirang several hundred times," Kim said. "Each piece is filled with a different sensation and rhythm."


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