Go to contents

Art Masters

Posted March. 01, 2006 05:45,   


The painting on the museum wall is of an attractive woman with large eyes and short hair revealing her forehead, but her blurred outline makes the painting look like an out-of-focus photograph.

The second exhibition room of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon is exhibiting the work of Gerhard Richter (74), the German master of contemporary art. The work described above is “Portrait of Liz Kertelge,” (65×70cm, 1966) which is the first work you see when entering the exhibition.

Looking closer, you will be surprised that it is a painting. The artist exposes the falseness of imaginary images and simultaneously makes you think about the genuineness of art through paintings that are just like photographs. Richter has searched for the line between photography and paintings and, ironically, he has emphasized the significance of painting as a traditional art genre and pioneered its infinite potential in the process.

Richter occupies an important position in global contemporary art history after the 1960s. While people were talking about the “demise of painting,” Richter insisted that painting still had a role to play and proved this with contemporary sense and methods. If you look around the exhibition room, you see so many varieties of work, from photo pictures to abstract, figurative and conceptual art works, to work with a feel of Dadaism. It is difficult to believe that they are all the work of one artist.

The western art community also thinks highly of Richter, who has long searched for new painting expression methods. The German art magazine, “Art,” selected him as one of “the most important painters this century” in 2000.

The exhibition will show 30 of his works and lend perspective to the different experiments he has attempted from the 1960s to his recent work in 2000. On the outside, his masterpiece, “Sea View-Cloudy,”(200×200cm, 1969) seems like a romantic picture showing the greatness of Mother Nature. But it actually combines pictures of the sky and sea to create an imaginary world. His artificial horizon at the bottom of the picture helps people realize that art makes people engross themselves in the imaginary.

His “Detail,” is a figurative painting that features his palette but seems like an abstract painting full of brilliant colors. “Grey” portrays the creation and extinction of painting itself by covering a painting with grey after it is put on canvas.

Richter was born in Dresden, Germany in 1932 and began his art career after fleeing to West Germany in 1961. His work is famous for being expensive because of the scarcity value as his style has changed often and he does not create many works in each of his styles. The National Museum of Contemporary Art has revealed that the works shown in this exhibition alone are worth 70 billion won.

Richter’s print works will be exhibited at Baiksong Gallery in Gwanhun-dong, Seoul until April 4. The exhibition at Gwacheon will be held until April 30. For more information, call 02-2188-6000.

In addition to Richter, many other European artists’ works are being exhibited this month. Together with the Richter exhibition, the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon is holding an exhibition of the works of East German artist, A.R. Penck (67). Penck is a major figure in German new expressionism art. His work, composed of so-called “symbolic language,” reads like a fable on modern society full of conflict and confrontation. The exhibition features 34 of his paintings and three of his sculptures.

“Sentimental Journey,” an exhibition featuring the recent works of Alfonso Heuppi (71), a Swiss artist working in Germany, will be held at Daelim Museum in Tongui-dong, Seoul until April 9. A former professor at the Dusseldorf Art Academy in Germany, Heuppi’s contemporary art has bright and vivid colors and simple styles. A notable work is “Last Journey,” a photograph of an Armenian holy site that was turned into ruins because of plundering by Turkey, and an earthquake with myths and legends filled in using felt-tipped pens. The exhibition also contains about 70 photographs of doors that he took in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as an actual wooden door. For more information, call 02-720-0667.

An exhibition of the works of Claude Lalanne (83) and Francois Xavier Lalanne (80), a French sculptor couple with surrealistic ideas and an artistic sense is being held at the Park Yeo-sook Gallery at Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul from March 2 to 20. The husband Francois-Xavier’s works show wild boars, rams and birds within the context of Egyptian art. Claude presents sculptures that combine practicality and decorativeness, such as her butterfly chair.

Mi-Seok Koh mskoh119@donga.com