By Susan Pares
For what is said to be the first time, the arts of North Korea hit the London gallery scene. North Korean contemporary art can be viewed periodically at the Korea Gallery of the British Museum, but this exhibition offers the chance for larger exposure to media and themes that are typical of North Korean art. ‘Korean painting’, i.e. brush and colour wash, oils, water colours, embroidery and even ballpoint work are used to present a range of subjects from the heroic to the intimate, passing by several beautiful landscapes and a couple of striking animal studies out of Africa. Ceramic vases and posters extend the experience. The work is by leading artists of the DPRK. Some of it would fit easily into any home or gallery, but purchasers will need deep pockets — the prices quoted run from three to five figures. Nonetheless, this is an exhibition to see, even if you may not be bringing any of it home with you.
The exhibition, significant in its own right, has also provided, via its launch event, an opportunity for informal North-South interaction: the ceremony, held on 18 July, was attended by representatives from both the DPRK and ROK embassies, as well as from the UK’s foreign office.
Arts, Art and Culture of the D. P. R. Korea, curated by David Heather, runs from 19 July to 3 September 2007 at La Galleria, 5b Pall Mall, London SW1Y 4UY (just inside the lower end of the Royal Opera Arcade), tel. 020 7930 8069.