A Contrastive Look into the Meaning of North Korean Paintings
A few years ago, I remember looking on in anticipation as a batch of paintings from several North Korean “National Treasures” artists, slowly slid from their protective coverings to form a small pyramid of scrolls on a white sheet spread out on my apartment floor. My best friend from college, Mike, art dealer and media producer in China, brought them back to the US, partly as a gesture of good will and partly to show the American art community the unexpected serendipity of having a North Korean communicate over the gulf of ideology and politics that separates our two nations through the flimsy elements of water, soot, and rice paper. I don’t know what I was expecting, but as scroll after scroll was unfurled before me, the swirls of color and bold brush strokes seemed to catch me off balance and lodge in my mind’s eye in a profoundly simple expression of joy. A kind of joy unexpected from a land associated in the media with terror, famine, and deprivation. I had not expected to be moved by art from the most narrowly defined ideological genres in existence… instead I was overwhelmed.
© 2013 Guanxi Master