Creativity and Daydream.

By Jo Phillips

AN exhibition of South Korean contemporary art will go ahead as planned at The State Hermitage Museum

Creativity and Daydream a collaboration between The State Hermitage, Parallel Contemporary Art and Saatchi Gallery is now installed at the State Hermitage Museum. The exhibition closing date will now extend to 28 June, prolonging the exhibition’s duration by an additional seven weeks. An online exhibition is also available introduced Dimitri Ozerkov, offering art enthusiasts around the world a digital walk-through and live streaming of from the museum of South Korean contemporary art, expanding the exhibitions reach to a global audience. 

As part of widespread efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus and following global governments and World Health Organisation sanctions, The State Hermitage Museum joins many of the world’s major cultural institutions to have temporarily closed their doors. The collection of emerging and established South Korean contemporary artists have been curated by Dr Dimitri Ozerkov, Head of the Contemporary Art Department, The State Hermitage Museum, Serenella Ciclitira, CEO and Founder, Parallel Contemporary Art and Philippa Adams, Head Curator and Director, Saatchi Gallery. 

Although presently closed to the public, the museum will offer a virtual tour, so visitors can still experience St Petersburg’s first exhibition of South Korea’s most exciting new artistic talent. Measures are currently being put in place for small VIP tours, following necessary safety precautions for guests to move around the museum. The exhibition will then travel to London’s Saatchi Gallery in mid-summer.

Serenella Ciclitira states the significance of the opportunity for burgeoning and recognised talent to hold their own among world famous artists housed at the Hermitage. Serenella explains that the curatorial team adjusted their vision quickly to keep Creativity and Daydream in place for the artists. “The fact that all the work is now installed at the State Hermitage is a triumph for us and the 16 artists who made this happen. This is a very challenging time for us and everyone else. There is a global need to protect public and staff members who work at institutions.”

이두원, Bird racing car chasing a bee, Buddha racing car chasing nothingness, Fish racing car chasing a frog, 페인트, 차이나 잉크, 구아슈, 오일 파스텔, 파키스탄 양털, 146.5 x 70 cm, 작가, Artwa 제공

The exhibition features a fascinating array of talent encompassing painting, sculpture, installation, embroidery, ceramics, performance, video and photography. Cody Choi, Da In Park, Doowon, Eunha Kim, Gosari, Hoyeon Kang, Jungki Beak, Kwantaeck Park, Lee Yongbaek, Meekyoung Shin, Oak Jungho, Park Miock, Sekyung Lee, Wonwoo Lee, Yoonsuk Choi and Young In Hong are among the ensemble of artists selected to exhibit.

The Ciclitiras’ philanthropy started in the 1980s, when they started presenting prizes to students at London’s Royal College of Art. In keeping with their tradition of supporting young artists, Serenella and her husband David have supported young artists under the “Eye” brand, producing definitive books and exhibitions in Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. “I see art as a voice”, notes Serenella. “And that voice speaks for the environment from which it comes.” The art piece in which David feels epitomises the through-line of the exhibition is Eunha Kim’s Bon Appetite, a vibrant beef burger collage of old clothing, so much so that he has purchased the piece.

One of the artists Da In Park travelled from Seoul to St Petersburg to self-isolate and to represent her peers. “I wanted to be there to show Korean art to a global society and its power, how strong we are, how can we overcome. Korean Eye 2020 is one of most important moments of my life, I will remember it forever.” An established name in the Korean art circuit, Da In Park will showcase a performance piece entitled Beauty Cult, which riffs on a ‘gosa’, a Shamanistic Korean ritual involving a pigs head with food and beverage offerings intended to prevent misfortune and bring good luck. Replacing the food items with beauty products, the alter piece is a reference to how beauty and appearance is institutionalised in South Korean culture. 

Another highly established female artist, Meekyoung Shin, famed for her intricate sculptures and artefacts made from soap, will present her monoliths, rock-like structures created to represent the kind of geological forms that might have been generated during the birth of the cosmos.

The works on display will include photography by Gosari, whose visuals capture the lives and experiences of people through the spaces that they used to inhabit. Photographs and a video piece from Jungho Oak humorously play on questions of culture and aggression via his video Freak Show. Award-winning artist and academic Young In Hong will display her intricate works. By working across photography, sewing, garment-making techniques and painting, Young In Hong’s multifaceted artistic practice references South Korean craftsmanship and traditional textile history. 

Representing the South Korean tradition of artists’ use of unusual mediums, Sekyung Lee will present a series of ceramics decorated with intricate patterns made from actual human hair. In revealing how art can transverse various categorisations, Lee explains, “Hair on a dish may make one frown and spoil his appetite, my work lends new meaning to the coexistence of these two elements.”

이세경, Hair on the Plate series, 2020, 설치 전경, 도자기 위 머리카락, 작가, 갤러리 시몬 제공

As the world’s greatest institutions offer cultural experiences to people at home serves as a reminder of the importance of the museum’s place in society during times of need. Research has shown that viewing art can reduce stress and anxiety, increase motivation and serve as a mood booster. And museums also play a crucial role in creating a more empathic world, by giving us an insight into the tropes of other cultures. They preserve the past, remind us of our place in the present and give us hope for the future. 

Creativity and daydream is available as a virtual exhibition on until The Hermitage St Petersburg is able to open to the public

Picture to the left 김은하, Bon Appetit, 2019, 의류 콜라주, 버려진 의류, 173.5 x 136.7 x 24 cm, 작가 제공

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