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An artist embraces Jeju, UNICEF in an exhibition for charityLee Wal Chong's show titled 'Embrace' runs until June 10 at the Lee Joong Seop Gallery in Seogwipo
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승인 2012.05.29  10:12:12
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▲ Lee Wal Chong's work is on display until June 10. Photo by Lee Yeo Jung

Until June 10, renowned painter Lee Wal Chong will be holding an exhibition entitled “Embrace” at the Lee Joong Seop Gallery in Seogwipo City, where all proceeds from the sale of his paintings will be donated to UNICEF.

▲ Artist Lee Wal Chong. Photo by Lee Yeo Jun
Now a Seogwipo City resident, Lee left his stable life as a professor at Chugye University for the Arts in Seoul and moved to Jeju Island in 1990. Before his relocation he had been working on a project called “Golden Mean,” which once he moved to Seogwipo City evolved to “The Golden Mean of Life in Jeju.”

Though a traditional Korean painter, his works differ somewhat from those he shares the genre with. Lee’s works are modernized and depict everyday life which makes them more relatable and moving.

When I saw his work in his exhibition “Embrace” I couldn’t help but smile. His work indeed reflects how our daily lives look. Although the paintings basically aligned with traditional Korean tastes such as landscapes and nature, they are unusual in that they portray everyday objects like cars (I can’t tell you how surprised I was to see black sedans drawn with traditional painting techniques) and common things like a husband and wife quarreling. There’s even golfing!

Yet even painted in this style, the images don’t look awkward. Somehow the unusual subject matter and the painting itself fit together so well that their combination appears quite natural.

▲ Photo by Lee Yeo Jung
▲ Lee Wal Chong's work is on display until June 10. Photo by Lee Yeo Jung

As it turns out, this is exactly what Lee has been striving to achieve over the last 30 years. “Golden Mean” is a neutral, unbiased state. With his work, Lee is trying to strike a balance between idealism and ordinary life.

In this exhibition “Embrace,” Lee Wal Chong and UNICEF are working together to raise money to help children all over the world. All the money from the printings sold in the exhibition will be donated to UNICEF. The following is a short interview with Lee Wal Chong.

What made you want to work with UNICEF?

During the hard times of the 1950s after the Korean War, I received help from this organization. They sent school supplies for students. I felt that it’s time to return their aid.

What does Jeju mean to you?

Jeju is a good and comfortable place. It is a place with clean air and water where nature is everywhere.

The “Golden Mean” is not an easy topic. It can be a heavy theme but you seem to portray it with bright colors with plain, ingenuous objects. What does that imply?

The “Golden Mean” can be interpreted into “equality.” Men and women are equals so are humans and the grass or birds or any part of nature. We humans are no more important than other living things. We are all part of the cycle of life. Also, to find the “Golden Mean” one should empty his mind and have no greed. To express this, I use light colors to draw ordinary objects.

Then have you found the ‘Golden Mean’?

I am trying.

The exhibition is held from May 12 to June 10 in Lee Joong Seop gallery in Seogwipo. Call 064-733-3555 for more information.

Lee Yeo Jun is a student at Jeju Foreign Language High School.



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