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Experience South Korean art in Delhi

After Korean songs and serials, here’s a glimpse of Korean art. We spoke to South Korean artist Jang Hee Mun who revealed details about her ongoing show taking place in New Delhi.

An artwork titled '108 All together'

They say when you want something, the whole universe conspires in order for you to achieve it. For South Korean artist Jang Hee Mun, this sentence sums up her artistic aspirations. Jang was always intrigued to learn about Indian art and culture. As fate had it, she met an Indian artist in China and two fell in love and got married. They moved to India two decades ago. This brought Jang closer to her dream.

The artist is now presenting a slice of her life in South Korea through her artworks in an ongoing exhibition, ‘Spontaneous Balance’. The show, being held at the Korean Cultural Centre (KCC), New Delhi, also features Shobha Broota’s artworks.

While Shobha’s works focuses on the portrayal of order as a true essence of beauty and devotion, Jang lets her creativity flow. Jang refrains from creating the right lines and textures. In fact, she does not look for the perfect balance in the artworks.

A slice of Korea on the canvas

Work in process: Jang Hee Mun works on the art installation

Jang’s art narrates her experiences and the stories she heard from her mother in South Korea. But her Korean connection is not limited to the messages her artworks reveal. The artist has also connected with her roots in the form of the materials used in the art.

For instance, she has used a special kind of ink that does not leave any impression on the back of the paper while being used. Unlike Indian artists, this ink is made from the Indian kajal (that women apply on their eyes) and natural glue.

She shares, “Natural glue adds thickness to the kajal. These ingredients are ground together using a special kind of a stone and water is then added to create the ink.”

Besides this, she has also used a traditional handmade paper called ‘Hanji’ that she sourced directly from South Korea. But why chose Hanji over machine-made paper?

“Hanji provides flexibility while working. It is naturally-textured and light. The pulp of the paper can be easily bent or crushed and it does not even tear when it is bent,” she adds.

The artist has also used oil and acrylic colours. In one of the paintings, she has narrated the story of the war that divided Korea into two different countries – North and South Korea.

She explains, “The artwork is inspired by my mother’s life is North Korea. She was born there and has spent her childhood in North Korea. But when the war started, her family was forced to relocate to South Korea. She has shared several stories of her childhood with me. I have used her experiences in this art.”

An artwork titled 'Redscape' being showcased at the ongoing exhibition

Through ‘Redscape’, another artwork, Jang has depicted her visit to South-North Korea’s border. The red colour in the painting shows violence due to the border-related issues between both the nations.

She shares, “Red is the colour of celebration as well as violence. Here, I have used it to show violence. I remember when I went to the border, I saw that the colour of the sky was red. It could be due to the sunset but that scene stayed with me. If you think deeply, due to the tension between the two nations, there would have been bloodshed. That is why I titled the painting 'Redscape'.”

Jang has mastered in traditional methods that makes her love for traditional tools stay with her. But what keeps her going is her belief in God.

“I believe that there is a power of something that balances everything in the universe. For me, this power belongs to the God. If he can create something out of nothing, why can’t humans create something from something else. I feel God has given us everything and my creativity also comes from him.”

Jang's style of painting is different from the rest. “Most artists plan their artworks around aesthetic beauty. I to go with the flow. I refrain from creating artificial balance in the paintings,” she asserts.

She sketches paintings based on the idea and likes working in layers. Jang has studied Bachelor’s in Art in South Korea. She was also an art student during her high school. She also studied letter painting in China before moving to India.

The artist is showcasing 11 of her artworks at the KCC till May 20.

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