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Losing oneself in the massesBetween People and People at Jeju Museum of Art reflects on the illusion of the self in East and West.
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승인 2016.03.17  14:06:11
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Photo: Jeju Museum of Art

Losing oneself in the masses

If a whole is greater than the sum of its parts, from where does the magic emerge when the parts are brought together? A stroll through Between People and People at Jeju Museum of Art gave a peek into that secret.

The exhibition runs until March 27 and acts as a study of portraiture and the implicit messages broadcast from artists through them.

It’s a mosaic of pieces, from the absurd zebra ladies of Kim Ji Hui’s Turkish Bath to the vacant stare of the anonymous lady on Bae Nam Kyung’s Village Bus, created with wood engravings of photographs printed on handmade paper.

The introductory description of the exhibition highlights the contrast between the Western and Eastern styles of viewing objects and art.

Photo: Jeju Museum of Art

The synopsis emphasizes that whereas the West might focus on the figure itself, the East tends to see a figure among its surroundings, as a part of a larger whole of nature.

Although portraits might evoke images of a single figure, Between People and People focuses more on gatherings, individuals among a group or the surrounding environment.

Byeon Yoon Hui’s It’s a Shame to Leave Now, for example, shows a drunken scene of colorful revellers with Cass cans and cigarettes strewn about in front of a GS25.

The even distribution of a variety of neon colors lets each face pop out on its own, while also allowing the whole of the crowd to exist, almost like a school of fish.

Photo: Jeju Museum of Art

The individual is almost completely obscured in Shin Heong Woo’s scribble of mashed cubist faces in White White, and in the dark blended mass of silhouettes in Ko Yeong Woo’s Your Darkness.

It’s not just that the images of the individual are blended, but also the depth of the perspective of the singular viewer is thrown out, as if all the figures were equidistant from the point of perception.

Even pieces where the individual seems to stand alone, the viewer can’t be completely fooled.

In Lin Jun’s Crying, the tormented girl is comically squirted on by a bully standing just out of sight.

In Lee Seung Hyeon’s Masterpiece Virus 007, the self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh is recreated, but taken over by a pernicious self-propagating virus.

Is it a critique of the omnipresence of classic Western images like van Gogh’s, or is it a tribute? Perhaps it’s both.

Photo: Jeju Museum of Art

Walking among Between People and People, you’ll find yourself captivated by the plethora of delightful portraits in a variety of contemporary styles.

Indeed, the pieces can make us feel “confused and uneasy” as the introductory description suggests.

Yet, there is something playful and provocative about this collection, maybe something that tells us not to take ourselves too seriously. We’re just fish in a school of plenty after all.

Between People and People

Feb 16 to March 27

Jeju Museum of Art

2894-78, 1100-ro, Jeju-si

064-710-4300

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