Growing interest in DPRK art show

Propaganda opposite the Institute of Directors

The North Korean art exhibition in Pall Mall is gathering momentum. A small-scale re-hang has seen more propaganda posters in the window facing the Institute of Directors (above), which encourages passing traffic. The jewel painting is now hung so that pedestrians in the Royal Opera Arcade get greeted by it. The big painting of the Sculpture Workers by Kim Song-min – which was looking more than a little crumpled where it hung in the arcade window — has been taken away for framing. Apparently all it takes is a little bit of water sprayed on to the back and the creases fall out…

Press interest has been growing. Japanese TV crews have been round, asking why anti-Japanese propaganda is being displayed, while the organiser David Heather has been interviewed for Voice of America and the Asia Times.

Americans seem to be unbothered by the anti-US propaganda on show. Buying interest has come from America and also from South Korea, though in the latter case prospective purchasers have wondered about the National Security Law implications of trying to get the artworks back home with them. A UK regional gallery is also rumoured to be showing some interest in the celadon work, and one large water-colour got snapped up without ever going on show. The pile of propaganda posters for sale seems to have got smaller, and a red “sold” sticker has been placed on one of the watercolours in the gallery the other side of the arcade.

The exhibition website is gradually growing, with images of the artworks and some background information. The site has images of a number of oil paintings which are not currently on display: there just simply isn’t the room for it all in the gallery.

One thing we were originally anticipating was a selection of woodcuts. Instead, we have the embroidery, ballpoint drawings and other unusual items. But there is still hope that some woodcuts may yet arrive, maybe for an exhibition all to themselves at a later date. A woodcut of a snowy country scene — the gallery has a collection of images in their Mac – makes a great seasonal greetings card.

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