About Korea Tomorrow 2017

Why “Narrative Landscape”?

YOUN Bummo, Art Crtiic, Chair Professor of Art History at Dongguk University

Humans live within landscapes. The idea of “landscape”, represented mainly by natural landscapes, can also expand to include human or social landscapes. It is also rare for art that takes on the topic of humans and nature to be the subject of attention. The problem is in how landscapes are accepted. Works that discover and narrate landscapes are closely connected to the act of art itself.

The Japanese cultural critic Kojin Karatani claimed in his theory of landscape that the movement from traditional literature to modern literature lies in the ‘discovery of landscape,’ and our awareness of landscape as something with meaning. The birth of landscape thus means the birth of the interior human. The discovery of landscape embodies the process of modern thought. Landscape, in turn, is what artists discover. It is also the subject of narrative. Exceptional works of art are imbued with the artist’s independent narrative. Taken to an extreme, we can say that a work of art without a narrative cannot be a good work of art. Narrative is the artist’s uniquely creative point of view. Objects and materials await narrative. In today’s world in which art is treated as a decoration or commodity, the meaning of “narrative” is all the more important.

This exhibition proposes “narrative landscape” as its subject. Here, of course, we intend “landscape” to encompass human and social landscapes outside of nature itself. The exhibition’s categories are based on the framework of “nature and humans + society.” The overall exhibition composition and configuration of its subcategories differs flexibly depending on the content of the individual works. The problem lies in narration. For this reason, simple representations like commemorative videos taken with a smartphone are weak in meaning. This is especially the case in the absence of a clear narrative; landscapes narrated through simple representation depend on the creative pronouncements of artists.

One of the hidden intentions of this exhibition is the reevaluation of figurative art and realism. This exhibition seeks to examine the development of the art of realism that has advanced rapidly since the 1980s, as well as the transformation of its processes. The scope of the exhibition has expanded to focus on those who played leading roles in the past as well as a new generation of artists. Landscapes require narratives. The meaning of discovered and narrated landscapes is conveyed in different ways. What is the face of our landscape in today’s reality? I believe that this exhibition works towards identifying its coordinates.