Opening hours: Monday- Saturday 9:30am- 6pm, closed Sundays
The Trinity Place Building B2/B3, 79 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu
18th March- 16th April
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10:30am- 6pm. Closed Sunday
Darren Almond has been busy making a name for himself in the art world over the past decade and by now is well known for works dealing with themes of time in terms of personal, historical and geographical memory. Obsessed with geographical and physical limits, he presents extreme situations to his observers. His exhibition, ‘Darren Almond,’ at PKM Trinity Gallery in Cheongdam showpieces exactly these main themes.
A series of photos titled ‘Arctic Plates’ (2003) confront the viewer as they enter. We are offered a close up view of pristine blue tinged snowscapes that look cold, lonely and somewhat menacingly beautiful. They are no doubt places where few people have had the privilege of seeing in the flesh. The isolated feel is continued in the 7 ‘Fullmoon’ photos exhibited. Almond has arguably become synomous with these photographic works which he has been taking since 1998. He takes photos with long exposures of upto 15 minutes during these werevolves’ nights, in remote locations. They appear ethereal and the brilliant light captured in them tricked me into wondering if it was actually sunlight that they were taken in. The ferocious sea around Yesnaby stack in Orkney is tamed into a smooth, soupy fog, whilst Loch Dawn looks like it could be a steaming cauldron of witches brew straight from the pages of Macbeth. Due to the long exposure, singular moments have not been been captured in these otherworldly photos, but rather a whole history of moments spanning hundreds, if not thousands of years. I was left wondering about the thousands of pairs of eyes throughout history which had no doubt pondered the same natural wonders as I am now.
4 videos give the viewer a wider insight into Almond’s obsessions. ‘Arctic Pull’ (2003), shows the artist pulling a sled on which the camera is bound, across the arctic during the dead of night. ‘Bearing’ (2007), shows an Indonesian sulpher miner dragging a 100kg load from a volcanic crater to the weighing station. ‘Tomorrow’s Dawn’ (2010) shows a Japanese monk’s endeavour to walk circuits of the same mountain for 100 consecutive days. They all deal with time, obsession, and if not outright religion, a personal journey akin to a religious one. They deal with people and their relationship that they form with the earth in their short time on it.
Being a Scottish expat in Korea, I suppose that I was so taken by Almond’s Full Moons as most were shot in Scotland in green and brown mossy hues that I find so comforting. But it goes far beyond nostalgia for me. I love how they could have been taken under any full moon and in any given year; they are timeless works of art. I love that through the videoworks, Almond highlighted man’s intrinsic need to form a bond, or make a mark on Earth. He takes us out of our own little bubbles to appreciate the timeless beauty and history of the world.
JoongAng Building, 1st Floor, 7 Sunhwa-dong, Jung-gu
2nd- 21st April
Opening hours: Monday- Saturday 10am-6pm, extended to 9pm on Wednesday, closed Sunday and national holidays
Textile lovers! Don’t miss this opportunity to see the latest exhibition at The Korea Foundation Cultural Centre. ‘Wearable Art: Indonesian Batik Cloth’ is a selection of one woman, Josephine Komara’s, 25 year collection of exquisite batiks. It is a celebration of this specifically Indonesian craft in the face of globalisation and therefore the weakening of traditional, handmade methods, handed down from one generation of women to another. It presents lovely contemporary batik pieces as functionable and wearable works of art.
Inside the two galleries, batik scarves and sarongs hang from different levels, both horizontally and vertically; some as if they are magic carpets frozen mid flight and others as if they are part of some fantastical procession. Seen from numerous angles and backlit by bright spotlights, I could merely marvel at the sumptuous earthy dyes of the higher up of the scarves. However, some are hung low enough for closer inspection and this is how I came to discover the real magic of these wonderful textiles. Even before any dyes or patterns have been applied, intricate weaving patterns are implemented, sometimes even incorporating extremely complex deliberate holes which correspond with the laterly applied patterns.
A long piece of cotton stretches across one wall and walks the viewer through the numerous stages of the batik process, starting from a humble, plain cotton. The process alternates between dying processes and applications of the pattern by means of a pen-like tool called a canting pen, stamps or free hand. Now the viewer can fully appreciate just how laborious and time consuming it is to create only one batik piece. Flowers, leaves, triangles, squares, dashes, dots, diamonds, swirls, circles and other careful abstract patterns correspond with the different dyes and even the fabric itself in some cases to produce these modest but nonetheless brilliant pieces of work.
There’s something so attractive about most textiles- so warm, tactile and comforting. I especially love how these batiks have been worked on with such skill and lovingness for months on end. This ancient and intricate technique gives these cotton rectangles status as an art form, yet the real beauty of them is that they are made to be used and worn. Like all good exhibitions, I left this one with a new knowledge and enthusiasm for what I had just seen. As well as a good mind to go back to Phnom Penh market to demand money back on the cheap and nasty ‘batiks’ that I purchased there last year!
Please refer to www.kfcenter.or.kr for more details and directions.
301 Nature Poem, 118-17 Cheongdam-1-dong
26th March- 24th April
Opening hours: Monday- Saturday 10am- 6pm, closed Sunday
If you happen to find yourself in or around the Cheongdam area of Seoul, confused about which galleries to visit, I’d definitely recommend a visit to Schultz Gallery where Kim Sangyeon’s ‘Disentanglement’ is showing.
Intricately hand carved, deliciously hued, black and red lacquered, winged cows are grouped on the walls. All are presented side on, galloping toward some unseen destination, heads turned towards the viewer. They are all roughly the same size and are in small groupings, some overlaid on top of others whilst some have have even broken free from the confines of the gallery walls so that you can walk underneath them. All cows are very similar, yet their carvings are unique. Kim Sangyeon has painstakingly laboured on these mythical looking beasts: chipping, scraping, scooping and hollowing. They are crafted and lacquered to a rough but absolutely charming perfection.
Beautiful as they are, I needed a hand in deciphering what these cows stood for. They seem mythical, even heavenly as you walk under them. These big, heavy animals which we consider to be stupid and nothing but meat to us, have been given wings and therefore freed from the stresses and strains of modern life which we are all victim of. Wouldn’t it be great to take a step back from all of this, perhaps even into simpler times past, as these cows have done, and disentangle oneself? I know that I for one would love that.
However, in this modern age, I’m not convinced that it’s that easy. I do appreciate the sentiment though. It’s certainly worth taking a moment to disentangle yourself from the bustling hyper fashion conscious streets of Cheongdam and stepping into the calm space of Schultz Gallery to behold these wonderful sky bourne lacquered joys.
Please refer to http://www.schultzgallery.co.kr for more information and directions.
79 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
29th March- 2nd May
Opening hours: Monday- Sunday 11am- 7pm
What an amazing surprise to stumble upon this Guy Bourdin exhibition whilst wandering the streets of Cheongdam after work today. The exhibition comprises of 75 of this legendary artist’s photographic prints from French Vogue editorials and other advertising campaigns which have been put together to form Volume I of a new book entitled ‘A Message for You.’ It’s great to see these highly polished, stylised and provocative fashion shots, but the biggest treat is the clips of his films, both formal and informal, which are on show and inadvertantly provide us with a closer look at the man on the other side of the camera.
Many people are familiar with the photographic work of Bourdin; stylised, glossy, exotic shots with an emphasis on bright, brash colours. They’re always posed with a cheeky sort of air to them. These elements combined always make me think of candy, really hard bright red cherry candy that you have to suck on for ages. The models used will more than likely be young, scantily clad, high heeled, leggy beauts with back combed hair and obscenely shiny red lips painted onto perfect faces. The photos ooze the models’ sex and often have harrowing undercurrants as well as nods to surrealism. What a winning combination!
Whilst I loved the photographs, it was the films that really caught my attention, especially since this is a side of his work lesser known. The first film, ‘Leila Rhodes,’ (1975), is played on a loop and set up in a mirrored room, emphasising a repetitive obsession. We are shown a nude and lifeless Leila lying face down on fake grass, luscious copper hair splayed around her, with super glossy red vixen lips and wicked nails as a goldfish flips and squirms by her face, also on it’s way to meet it’s maker. Interests in Surrealism, abstraction and humour detected in this film are apparent in the rest of the clips too. We are shown a reverse male strip tease, giggling models with billowing fan blown hair in Bourdin’s studio and a woman in white satin underwear reclining over the lap of an extremely awkward and rigid looking tuxedoed gentleman.
All this is set to a soundtrack of a handful of kind of melancholy songs from previous decades, including The Shangri-La’s Past, Present and Future. Very fitting for this wonderful exhibition which through film, takes us back in time to the actual moments where Bourdin produced these by now familiar photographs which can only be his. They bring to life the beautiful but character-less models as well as offer a closer look into the inner workings of this highly influential artist. I highly recommend.
Please refer to www.10corsocomo.co.kr for more information and directions.