Korean chiaroscuro at the third Chennai Chamber Biennial
Abstract renditions of nature take centre stage at the Chennai Chamber Biennial, hosted by InKo Centre and the K-ART International Art Exchange Association.
“A conglomerate of 22 popular Korean artists will present 122 works of art in the largest exposition of Korean art in the country,” says Rati Jafer, director of InKo Centre.
Exclusive to this edition, the biennial will feature artworks classified into two sections – abstract vignettes of nature in its myriad colours and contemporary depictions of ancient Korean art forms.
The show is a part of the InKo Centre’s efforts to forge robust cultural relationships with the Korean artist community and the Indian talent pool.
Rati notes, “It is an ambitious endeavour that we have taken up to familiarise both cultures to each ethnic group. The Korean artists will be acquainted with the way of life in Chennai, not just through sight-seeing, but indulging in the details of a daily life scenario.”
The works reflect a strong relation between the countries of India and Korea. “In Indian and Korean art, there is always an interplay of the aspects of tremendous social transformation and an artistic eye that seeks harmony in between elements that are seemingly at tension,” says the 54-year-old Lee Bum Hun, who runs an art forum in Korea, and is one among the 22 participating artists.
On common ground
Heo Seong Bo, 22, who is set to present works in the form of Buncheong-sagi, an ancient Korean Ceramic art with modern aesthetics, feels that artists of both the countries draw extensive inspiration from the rich natural heritage around them.
“The beauty in nature and naturally occurring phenomena symbolically address the mentality of an ethnic group. Both Indian and Korean abstractionists tend to lean to the same muse,” he says.
The vision is deeply rooted in a centuries-old spiritual affiliation between both countries. A deep sense of reverence towards the practice of Buddhism, and a veneration of divinity guides the sensibilities of the artists.
“The quest for spirituality in daily life is prevalent in both Korean and Indian schools of thought. This enables the artists to portray objects beyond their tangible forms,” explains the 54-year-old Seo Beom Seok.
A globalised spirit
The works at this edition of the biennial will propagate art’s rising significance in the globalised world.
The 52-year-old Lee Sun Hee, who will present multimedia mosaic pieces with a negative picture effect, discusses the spirituality of the oriental values and predicts, “In a globalised future, art will be the guardian of conscience and a representative of the concerns of third world countries”.
Yet again on a spiritual note, Kim Choon Sik, another nature aficionado, depicts snow by painting other elements around it and leaving in white spaces to denote the snow.
The 63-year-old artist offers a comment on the same concerns, offering that “the idea of renunciation of materialism is taking shape around the globe. Spirituality, the sign of core Asian value is soon to direct the future.”
He adds, “it is the artist’s duty to render traditional art with an appeal for the current world to strengthen art as a medium of spiritual communication.”
Before the show’s opening, the InKo Centre will organise a symposium titled, “Combining tradition and modernity: an introduction to Korean contemporary (art)”, which will include panel discussions featuring the artists exhibiting their works alongside artists from Chennai, a handful of professors of fine arts from city-based colleges as well as critics and art history experts.
The Venerable Abbot Subul Sunim, Anguk Zen Center, Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, will inaugarate the event. At Lalit Kala Academy, 4, Greams road. Symposium on July 27, exhibition open on July 28 to August 6. 11 am to 7 pm. Details: 9840013017