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Present from the Past: KCC art exhibition commemorates the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War

An important and significant exhibition coming up at the KCC this month, starting 16 June:

A positive, dynamic and exciting exhibition of contemporary art by forty Korean Artists, reflecting on the Korean War and its legacy. And thanking the men and women of Britain who came to Korea’s defence in the name of liberty in 1950.

From 16 June to 17 July 2010 the exhibition PRESENT FROM THE PAST marks sixty years since the Korean War began on June 25 1950. It also offers forty artists an unique opportunity to express their gratitude to British veterans of the war. Some 58,000 British men and women served in Korea and helped to secure the independence and liberty millions of Koreans have today.

PRESENT FROM THE PAST sees forty newly commissioned works from forty Korean artists working internationally. The exhibition pays particular attention to the ways artists deploy their own history – whether through a reinterpretation of the Korean War or its legacy for the people of Korea.

After the exhibition, all the exhibited art works will be donated to the Royal British Legion and will be auctioned in September 2010, with the support of Sotheby’s. The auctioneer Lord Dalmeny of Sotheby’s will auction the lots and all proceeds will be donated to the British Korean Veterans Association Relief Fund. In addition, as a Thank You present, 80,000 special edition postcards of the artworks on show have been printed so that each member of the British Korean Veterans Association may have a set.

The contributing artists for the exhibition PRESENT FROM THE PAST: The 60th Commemoration of the Korean War: are, in alphabetical order:

Je BAAK, Seung Woo BACK, Chan-Hyo BAE, C Gene, Francesca CHO, Young-Jin CHOI, Sen CHUNG, Shan HUR, Yun Kyung JEONG, Eemyun KANG, KANG Yong Suk, Ayoung KIM, Hayoung KIM, Kira KIM, Dae Hun KWON, KWON Kyung-hwan, Changwon LEE, LEE Lee Nam, Sang Youp LEE, Sea Hyun LEE, Suejin LEE, Yongbaek LEE, NA Hyun, NANDA, Jae woo OH, Junggeun OH, Hyung Jin PARK, Jinhee PARK, PARK Jongha, PARK Jongwoo, PARK Sungsil, PARK Young Geun, SEO, Gunwoo SHIN, Meekyoung SHIN, Bada SONG, Yun-Hee TOH, Seungho YOO, YOO Hye-sook, Jungu YOON

As with every Korean, the contributing artists each fully appreciate the importance of 25 June for the people of the Korean peninsula. Korea’s contemporary art scene is indebted to the sacrifices of the Korean War veterans and the honour of marking this anniversary with an exhibition and auction is such that not one of the artists approached turned down the invitation to contribute.

The artworks encompass sculpture relief, oil on canvas, print, drawing and photography, with many artists creating new works especially for this unique event. Each artist was asked to produce a piece of work reflecting one of the following four themes:

  1. Connections that transcend Time and Space
    • We have a saying ‘even a slight touch of sleeves, is fate’. This human connection felt by the veterans and the people of Korea is explored in the first theme. Many Korean War veterans regard Korea as their second home, where friends and strangers welcome them and their comrades rest in the UN cemetery. This exhibition pays tribute to the soldiers by exploring the connections between them and the Korean people which seem to transcend both time and space.

    Bae Chan-hyoSuejin LEEGunwoo SHIN
    BAE Chan-Hyo: Existing in Costume (2007) | Suejin LEE: Sunday Lunch (2010) | Gunwoo SHIN: Two Soldiers (2010)

    • Inspired by these connections, BAE is disguised as a British noble woman and holds his identification dog tag from his military service. Suejin LEE paints a normal Sunday lunch, imagining if a soldier is still with us. A corner of a third place setting suggests there is someone else present. SHIN portrays two soldiers, one in relief, and the other sketched, representing two soldiers standing side by side ‘now and forever’.
  2. Destruction and Creation
    • Modern Korea has been built upon the debris of the Korean War. This section’s theme is linked to the relationship between art-making and the subject of war . All born after the Korean War, the artists express common ground with Korean War veterans through their work.

    Je BaakKwon Kyung-hwan
    Je BAAK: Memory of (2010) | KWON Kyung-hwan: Flag (2010)
    Shin Mee-kyungLee Lee-namYun Hee Toh
    Meekyoung SHIN: Translation (2010) | LEE Lee Nam: Digital Peach (2008) | Yun-Hee TOH: Cell Division (2010)

    • Je BAAK paints a photograph of the ruined city of Seoul and calls it a “process of healing”. KWON Kyunghwan shreds and mixes the two national flags of Korea and Great Britain before blending them together into one. LEE Lee Nam reinterprets an auspicious symbol in Korean traditional art and, by eliminating some parts, accentuates an important element. SHIN Meekyung hopes to link the post-war population to the previous generation by using the new medium of soap. OH Yoonhee uses Korean mulberry paper to emulate how a new cell is born from a dead cell.
  3. Forgotten War, Unforgettable People
    • Falling between the global tragedy that was World War II and the first televised war in Vietnam it is little wonder that the Korean War has become widely regarded as the forgotten war. This theme reminds us of the many individual stories of sacrifice and bravery it produced.

    Kang Yong-SukChangwon Lee
    KANG Yong Suk: Korean War Monument (2009) | Changwon LEE: Memories (2010)

    • This section consists of works meant as gifts to the veterans as well as a project looking for a missing soldier. KANG Yongseok provides a critical perspective on Korean War monuments. LEE Changwon painted a photograph of soldiers, Korean and foreign, together, on a sheet of glass: acting like a negative it projects an interesting image when held to the light.
  4. My Korea, its Fragile Peace
    • What does ‘my Korea’ stand for? This section shows artists’ various interpretations around the existence of two Koreas, a situation that has — both directly and indirectly — formed the backdrop to every Korean’s life for the past sixty years.

    Sang-Youp LeeSeahyun LeeHayoung Kim
    Sang Youp LEE: DMZ Forest (2009) | Sea Hyun LEE: Between Red 9 (2007) | Hayoung KIM: Internal War (2009)

    • LEE Sangyoup’s photograph reveals the Demilitarized Zone’s current appearance as an undisturbed paradise on earth. LEE Seahyun saw a Utopian vision of the DMZ through his night-vision goggles. He calls it Utopia since he believes it no longer exists. The irony of our own history is expressed in Hayoung KIM’s work, while Ayoung Kim shows how Korea is perceived from the outside.

The Exhibition PRESENT FROM THE PAST is brought to you by the Korean Cultural Centre UK. The auction is organised by the Royal British Legion in association with the British Korean Veterans Association. This exhibition is curated by Stephanie Seungmin Kim of the Korean Cultural Centre UK.

Additional Events:

  • Curator Talk on 17 June 2010, 17:00 (Free)
  • Meet the Artists! on 9 July 2010, 16:00 – 19:30

Auctioneer Sotheby’s Lord Harry Dalmeny

With the kind support of Sotheby’s Lord Dalmeny will be auctioneer for the Charity event to be held in September 2010, raising funds for the British Korean Veterans Association Relief Fund. Lord Dalmeny was born in Scotland, read Art History at Cambridge and joined Sotheby’s in 1990 to work in the Country House sale department, gaining wide experience in organising auctions of all types and sizes. He became a Director of Sotheby’s in 2000, and was Chairman of Sotheby’s Olympia from 2003-2007. In 2006 he took responsibility for the single-owner sales department, and in 2007 became Deputy Chairman, Sotheby’s UK. Harry is Sotheby’s premier Charity auctioneer, wielding the gavel at events which have raised over £30 million for good causes in the last year. For the last four years he has been the auctioneer at the annual ARK dinner which in 2007 made a record £26M. He lives between London and Scotland and is married to Caroline with five children under the age of five, and relaxes by riding the Cresta Run or playing bridge.

The Royal British Legion safeguards the welfare, interests and memory of those who are serving or who have served in the Armed Forces. They are one of the UK’s largest membership organisations and recognised as custodians of Remembrance most notably with the annual Poppy Appeal.

The British Korean Veterans Association was formed at an inaugural meeting held at Imphal Barracks, York, in September 1981, through the amalgamation of the National Association of Korean war Veterans (UK) and the British Korean Veterans Association. We are members of the International Federation of Korean War Veterans Associations (IFKWVA), whose headquarters are in Seoul, South Korea, and which promotes the interests of all who fought in the Korean War.

The prime objective of the BKVA is to organise, develop, enter into and carry out or co-operate in any endeavour for the benefit of men and women of all ranks who served in the Korean War 1950-1953, and subsequent Peacekeeping Forces, or for the benefit of their widows and dependants, and generally to promote their welfare and the relief of distress. The BKVA is non-political and offers comradeship to all those who served.

The BKVA has a Relief Fund and a national welfare policy, which incorporates all branches when the needs of veterans are made known they can be acted upon quickly.

The Patron of the Association is, Major General Sir Peter Downward KCVO CB DSO DFC, The President is Major General G M G Swindells CB and the current Chairman and President of IFKWVA, is Col GM Gadd OBE

British Veterans in the Korean War 1950-53: facts provided by British Embassy in Seoul:
The UK was the second largest foreign contributor of troops to UN forces in the Korean War. It was one of the first countries to respond to South Korea’s request for assistance by sending its Far East Fleet along the Korean coast on 29 June 1950, shortly followed by members of the British Army and Royal Air Force.

The UK deployed troops in response to UN Security Council Resolution 83, passed on 27 June 1950, which condemned the North Korean invasion of South Korea. It called on UN Member States to give assistance to repel the attack and restore regional peace and security. The British government at the time were clear that the UK needed to do everything in its power to help South Korea resist the aggression.

58,000 British Servicemen fought with the United Nations in Korea during the conflict. 1,109 British servicemen lost their lives and 2,674 were wounded.

British Veterans from the Korean War have revisited Korea every year since 1975. In April 2010, over 60 British veterans returned with their families.

Korean Cultural Centre UK

Ground Floor Grand Buildings
1—3 Strand London WC2N 5BW
(Entrance on Northumberland Avenue)

(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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