A day of art, documentary and music, all for free

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It always amazes me how much is on offer for free in London.

I was determined to get to at least one of Joo Yeon Sir’s (free) Beethoven recitals at the Royal College of Music – but at 6pm, they are inconveniently early in the evening for someone working at Canary Wharf. So I booked yesterday off work, and decided to take advantage of my freedom by visiting a couple of galleries.

A visit to Tate Modern to see the Nam June Paik rooms, made possible by Hyundai’s sponsorship, was long overdue, but passing through one of the sculpture galleries on the way I came across a work by Lee Seung-taek (Godret Stone, 1958) which had been acquired by the Tate in 2013.

There are some rather better pictures of another work in the series from his London solo show last summer.

The Paik Nam June rooms on the 4th floor of the gallery contain an interesting cross-section of his work, most of it on loan from the Hakuta family. A video on the Tate website includes a brief interview with Ken Hakuta, Paik’s nephew:

The 2002 Bakelite Robot (pictured on the Tate website here) was surprisingly endearing – I often find Paik’s television sculptures cold and forbidding. Perhaps its less-than human scale, its cute orange and red colours, and the grilles on the radios which could be construed as a smiling face, made for a domestic robot that you could live with.

Three Eggs (1975-82) was a work I hadn’t come across before, though its use of a closed-circuit TV camera recalls his TV Buddha. Here there is the added playfulness that as well as the original egg and its live representation on a TV monitor, there is another hollowed-out monitor which contains a real egg inside, causing us to question the reality of what we see on TV, and our preference for the TV image over the genuine article.

Entrance to Nam June Paik gallery

The other side of the City in Shoreditch, Park Chan-kyong’s solo show, Pa-gyong – the Last Sutra Recitation, was still on. My previous attempts to watch the centrepiece of the exhibition, his documentary Sindoan about the various religious communities who had made their home around Mt Gyeryong during the 20th Century, had not met with success as I struggled to stay awake after a heavy lunch. This time I went with an empty stomach, and the film started to make more sense. The free coffee from the percolator in the corner of the gallery helped, but with the names of the different prophets and prophetic manuscripts coming thick and fast another visit will be needed to resolve all the questions I still have. If like me you’re not up to speed on the distinctions between some of Korea’s syncretic belief systems then the film can become confusing.

Iniva Park Chan-kyong poster

After two viewings it was already time to head over to South Kensington for Joo Yeon Sir’s rush hour recital at the Royal College of Music. She is performing Beethoven’s complete cycle of ten violin sonatas, each one accompanied by a diferent pianist. This was the second recital, in which she performed the A minor 4th Sonata with KAA member Sohyun Park, and the Spring Sonata with Natalia Sokolovskaya. I can’t think of a better way to set yourself up for the evening.

L to R: pianist Sohyun Park, introducer Katy Hamilton, Joo Yeon Sir and pianist Natalia Sokolovskaya
L to R: pianist Sohyun Park, introducer Katy Hamilton, Joo Yeon Sir and pianist Natalia Sokolovskaya (photo via Facebook)

So far everything had been free. It was a bit much to expect free food from my local Korean restaurant (the excellent Yoshi Sushi in Hammersmith), but at least the kimchi was on the house, something which doesn’t happen in many London Korean restaurants.

  • Joo Yeon Sir’s next Beethoven recital is on 30 June. Check http://jooyeonsir.com/ for details
  • Park Chan-kyong’s solo show at Iniva closes on 21 March.
  • Tate Modern’s Nam June Paik gallery is on the 4th floor.

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