From May 19-24 there was an exhibition of portraits that explored the minds of youth with work by local painters from Jeju, including Ahn So hee, Kim Dong won and Shin Seung hun. This annual event follows in the tradition of youth painters that began in 1909 at the Alliance of Youth, St. Petersburg, Russia.
When I walked into the Jeju Culture and Art Center Second Exhibition Room, I saw Shin Seung hun's paintings. They were all black, grey and white, with rough images of ships. There was no blue sea, no blue wind, no color, but the view was filled with images of whole ships in the ocean, as if our youthful minds had been swayed by this harsh world and society.
Then I entered the First Exhibition Room; I saw many faces, many shadows of our minds, the minds of youth. I couldn't take my eyes off the three paintings. The room was filled with paintings by Ahn So hee and Kim Dong won; Kim Dong won's paintings were beautiful and stable, but my wobbling youthful mind was drawn towards the paintings of Ahn So hee.
▲ Emptiness by Ahn So hee
The first painting was “Emptiness.” Empty eyes, empty clothes, empty hair color, an empty sketch and an empty wall. I could see the empty questioning mind: What should I do now? What is wrong with me? Why has he gone? Why couldn't I get the job? Is it because of me? Did I do something wrong? Why is society this way? Why are people so mean? Can I find the right job? When will my dreams come true? Well, does my dream even suit me?
Ahn So hee said about her work: "All of my paintings start from just subconscious doodling," through which she catches the wobbling minds of youths. Lots of young people worry about these problems, not knowing what their future will be.
After tough middle and high school days, when the only hope is getting into a good college, Korean young adults lose their hopes to achieve their own goals, the vocation of their soul. And the course to find it, it is the tough task. I think that is why the young adults suffer, because we are novices, we don't know yet exactly who we are.
▲ Erasing memories by Ahn So hee
The second painting that captured my imagination was 'Erasing memories,’ depicting a hurt and sick girl. Maybe it is because of the memories of her childhood, her sensitivity, or her worries; or maybe it’s because of the memories of outside, other's eyes, prejudices, job problems, her departed boyfriend, or the person whose hand is picking the leaves from her back.
How beautiful it is! If we could remove the leaves (memories) from another, then the pain could be eased; but if we could see the pain in others as easily we see a broken leg, we could readily help people in need, as we might share the burden with a weak porter carrying a heavy load.
▲ Watching crowd by Ahn So hee
The third painting also captured my eye and I felt her pain intensely. The woman is getting out of the water as lots of people are laughing and mocking her. When we are in the status of being mentally ill, mentally swayed, it is hard for us to get out from our personal well. Though her legs are in the well, she opens up her heart and tries to get out of the deep herself.
Though it's hard, she tears down the wall herself and tries to get out of it. I know that it will be hard; to face the crowds, it will be hard. She will get used to it, over and over, swaying and swaying, she will get used to it. And finally, she will become one of them, and become an adult knowing that the world does not just inflict pain, but also helps us to grow.
The bestselling book by professor Kim Nando, says:
"You must wobble a thousand times to be an adult,
One who doesn’t wobble, is not an adult,
you must wobble a thousand times to be an adult.
So, wobbling a little bit is okay.
Wobble with me,
it is the natural journey to adulthood."
The flowers bloom no matter whether they were wobbled by the wind or the dust. Although youths must withstand the wind, it is the path for us all, for the future flowers yet to bloom.
The Youth Artists Born in Jeju exhibition was held from May 19-24 in the Jeju Culture and Art Center Exhibition Rooms 1 and 2.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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