It has been 69 year since the start of the April 3 Massacre. For nearly fifty years, the horrors and memories of that dark period were suppressed.
However, following the rise of “Minjung” Art (People’s Art) in the 1980s, the 4.3 Massacre gradually found its way into the work of artists as they turned their attention towards social reality.
The founding of the Tamna Fine Arts Association in 1993 further encouraged the development of 4.3 themed art through the annual April 3rd Fine Art Festival.
This year, the 4.3 Art Archive Exhibition commemorates thirty years of continued efforts in the struggle for recollection, seeking to reaffirm April 3rd art’s place in art history.
▲ "Loot" by Kang Yo-bae
The birth, rise, and expansion of 4.3 fine art is shown in a timeline spanning from 1983 to 2013, with accompanying pictures and works from past exhibitions.
There is also a collection of woodcut prints from the Baramkoji Coterie (the original name for the Tamna Fine Arts Association), which in 1989 held the first major exhibition centered on 4.3 related art. The bold lines and striking effect of woodcut printing really accentuates the emotional content of each piece.
Works by Kang Yo-bae were especially compelling, depicting poignant images of death, suffering, and grief in pencil, charcoal, or Conté (a brand of crayon) on paper. Some are detailed, whereas others are rough sketches that look incomplete. The appearance of these works are simple, yet the rawness of the medium reflects the brutal depth of suffering during that period.
Further inside the exhibition hall are a selection of watercolor and acrylic paintings, digital prints, and even a funeral altar complete with flowers and fruits - the “Funeral of History”.
▲ "Jeju's Stone Walls 2" by Park Ji-hye
The last part of the exhibition seems to be centered on the bloodshed of the massacre.
A human skeletal structure made from iron and stone takes center stage against a backdrop of red-toned paintings, titled “Slaughter”. And “Like Salted and Fermented Anchovies”, a painting near the exit - a giant ink rendering of what looks like a mass of human bones.
On the second floor of the Jeju Museum of Art, you will find the exhibitions for the 24th April 3rd Fine Art Festival. This year’s theme is “A Journey into Community, Facing the Far Side”.
In light of the 70th anniversary of the April 3rd Massacre next year, the fine art festival attempts to explore the role of art in society.
▲ Woodcut prints from the Baramkoji Coterie
The exhibition here is the second part of two sections planned for this year’s event. Part one is a string of smaller exhibitions held simultaneously at thirteen other cultural spaces in the heart of old Jeju City.
Part two here is themed “Black and White”, expressing the openness and inclusiveness of art through various media like painting, video, and installation, all of which are created only in black and white.
Every work showcased at the April 3 Fine Art Archive Exhibition, regardless of scale or medium, tells a story of the April 3rd Massacre in a unique way. It is worth taking a walk through time, looking at history through art, at the Jeju Museum of Art.
The exhibition runs until May 21, Tuesdays to Sundays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission will be free in April.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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