Rare Foreign Exhibitions Elates Art Lovers

Article excerpt

The recent rush of western art exhibitions has economic significance. The rush, which began in the early 1990s but was briefly marred by the foreign exchange crisis in 1997, influencing both galleries and their sponsors.

Nevertheless, big business groups along with private galleries and national museums have played a significant role in presenting classic to contemporary art to domestic fans. They have also contributed to the new concept of ``mecena'', which defines companies' investment into culture in order to gain wider public recognition, though some chaebol are sometimes suspected of rampant competition to own enormous art collections.

So far the planning of foreign art exhibitions is likely to be limited to the objectives of raising an awareness and understanding about movements throughout the history of modern art.

``It is imperative to focus on overseas art movements and the need to promote a general understanding of modern art, which many people are unfamiliar with,'' a curator said, pointing out that many in Korea have been blind to the delight of enjoying art while focusing on economic values.

Despite constraints due to limited domestic collections of art works for foreign art shows and difficulties in contacting foreign galleries for exhibitions, quality foreign art exhibitions are regarded as a device to promote Korean art.

Chief Curator Chung Jun-mo of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Kwachon stresses that foreign art exhibitions should be a channel to stimulate Korean art and shed light on studies of modern art history. ``I hope Foreign art exhibitions will make unfamiliar concepts of latest art movements clearer by bringing famed foreign artist here,'' he said.

Regarding the effects of a large-scale one-person exhibition, he added, ``By planning such an exhibition, we can discover what elements made an artist win international fame. In that sense, exhibitions of foreign artists can contribute to globalization of Korean art.''

In appreciating such exhibitions, caution should be raised concerning the common misunderstanding that western art consists solely of contemporary art. Reversely, foreign art exhibitions are more likely to help spectators and art critics realize that Korean arts are just a part of the big stream of contemporary art with their uniqueness.

Chung stresses that ``Spectators should understand that Korean art is obviously forming the big stream of contemporary art together with other western artists.''

Asked about the future direction of foreign art exhibitions, he said Gallery Sang said it is necessary for future exhibitions to find either Korean or foreign artists who have successfully constructed their own world rather than clinging to introduction of masterpieces with verified value, while sensational exhibitions focusing on mere commercial success should be cautioned against. …