After the Hallyu wave

South Korean media artist Lee Lee Nam showcases a blend of traditional Korean art with modern digital techniques at K-Art Booth at the India Art Fair
The works of artist Lee Lee Nam, represented by the Korean Cultural Centre at the India Art Fair’s K-Art booth.
The works of artist Lee Lee Nam, represented by the Korean Cultural Centre at the India Art Fair’s K-Art booth.

The wave of Hallyu has engulfed many, but what yet remains largely unknown to the world is Korean art. The works of artist Lee Lee Nam, represented by the Korean Cultural Centre at the India Art Fair’s K-Art booth, may bridge this gap. This South Korean artist is known for creating an amalgamation of today’s high-tech environment with traditional paintings. At the K-Art booth, too, Nam’s artwork will showcase this amalgamation, in the hope that the visitors too will witness a new world of art where the classic meets the modern.

“Despite the great interest in Korean culture in India, there is a lack of understanding of Korean artists and their art. Through this, we aim to bring focus on Korean art,” says Hwang II Yong, director of the Korean Cultural Centre India.

Nam’s three representative works, on display are ‘Cartoon Folding on Screen 1’, ‘Chochungdo’ and ‘Kim Hon Do - Painting of Bamboo’. As a globally acclaimed media artist, Nam seamlessly blends digital technology with masterpieces from both Eastern and Western traditional art forms. Expressing his gratitude for being part of the India Art Fair, Nam says: “I am grateful for having been allowed to showcase the media art works that reinterpret world art history, religion, philosophy, and aesthetics, combining Indian art culture with traditional Korean paintings.”

Reinterpreted art

In ‘Cartoon Folding on Screen 1’, Nam combines iconic Korean comic artists with classic Asian paintings and satirises power dynamics in contemporary art. This piece features works such as Lee Do-ho’s ‘Mudori’, Shin Mun-su’s ‘Robot Jijbba’, Park Soo-dong’s ‘Dolmen Gobau’ and Yoon Seung-woon’s ‘Frog School’. This reinterpreted art portrays the real world in cartoons or video-game-like frames while capturing stories from ancient times and presenting those in four different seasons.

The artwork features smoke, fire and cannon balls flying through different frames. These elements are symbolic and depict the issues of the contemporary world. The ‘Chochungdo’ is a modern reinterpretation inspired by two works of Shin Saimdang - a prominent female painter of the Joseon Dynasty. The reinterpreted work by Nam intertwines the smooth expressions from the original paintings with modern digital techniques. The reinterpretation brings vibrant colours to the paintings and, at the same time, erases some old characters while introducing new ones.

Nam’s commitment to revitalising long-forgotten paintings is also evident in his work ‘Kim Hong Do-Painting of Bamboo’. Through digital reinterpretation, he animates the original bamboo painting by Do--a master from the late Chosun Dynasty--and recreates the paintings through different phases of snowfall. Nam’s work showcases the intersection of classics with digital technology, creating a bridge between the two, and allowing his visitors a peek into the classic Korean art through a modern lens.

The K-Art Booth exhibition is on at the NSIC Exhibition Ground at India Art Fair

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The New Indian Express