The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea(NMOCA) is holding an exhibition titled The Centennial Celebration of Lee In-sung's Birth at the Nation Museum of Art, Deoksugung from 26th of May to 26th of August, 2012.
Artist Lee In-sung (1912-1950) created a remarkable artistic legacy in the field of Korean contemporary art in the 1930s-40s, during the Japanese occupation, characterized by his abundant use of symbolic colors and refined sensibility. This exhibition was conceived to shed new light on the life and artistic world of Lee In-sung, a master of Korean contemporary art, for the centennial celebration of his birth.
The exhibition will focus on the personal life of Lee In-sung, who is recognized as a genius of contemporary art. Visitors will be able to see the artistic journey he took during his turbulent life, shedding light on and investigating historical records of several influential relationships hitherto only vaguely explained. For this exhibition, the museum collected data from various sources, particularly from the Seoul and Daegu areas, for two and a half months after posting a public notification of data collection, and held several review conferences on the collected data with experts. Based on these reviews, the museum held academic seminars under six sub-titles to investigate the current status of research on Lee In-sung, and then prepared the exhibition on the basis of these seminars.
What artist Lee In-sung sought to express through his works of art was sentiment about the hometown. As he revealed in his writings titled In Search of Hometown and Missing the Homeland, 'homeland' refers to various ideas including his geographical hometown of Daegu, Korea's mountains and streams, and his own artistic homeland. Lee In-sung expressed his homeland from the perspective of Korean art, rather than from that of Japanese or Western art. In the end, he was able to formalize remarkable works of art in the 1930s with his unique materials and strong colors and symbolism, thereby reflecting a particularly Korean sensibility. Lee In-sung's lyrical and idyllic paintings melt into the Korean art arena and incessantly flow through that arena. This exhibition is designed to offer visitors a special opportunity to meet an artist who lived a turbulent life during Korea's contemporary era.
The archive space of the exhibition hall will showcase actual data and materials such as the books, postcards and photos he collected over the years. As visitors follow the footsteps of his life through historical data which bear his imprint, they will be able to visually sense the relationship between Lee In-sung's art world and the influence of Western and Japanese art.
During the opening ceremony of this exhibition, a musical score titled The Footsteps of Water Birds, which was published in 1939, had performed by the KNUA Serenade Quartet of the Korea National University of Arts. The Footsteps of Water Birds, which is one of many materials being disclosed for the first time at this exhibition, consists of lyrics written by poet Yun Bok-jin and music composed by composer Park Tae-jun, while the cover for the music album features an etching by Lee In-sung himself. Literature scholar Yun Bok-jin (1907-?), who defected to North Korea, had a close relationship with Lee In-sung. For certain of the works for which Lee In-sung produced a painting and Yun Bok-jin wrote a poem, visitors will be able to view the related music scores and newspaper illustrations, and witness their close interaction through photos. The lyrical literary style of Yun Bok-jin, who studied in Japan and was five years older than Lee In-sung, no doubt had some influence on Lee In-sung's artworks, so their artistic interactions will be presented during the opening ceremony of this exhibition.
Exhibition-related education is also offered for children and young people. With this educational program, young visitors will be able to appreciate and create artworks at the same time, and draw water paintings of the scenery of Deoksugung Palace with the help of professional lecturers. This field education, to be offered on five consecutive Saturdays, will be a great weekend activity for youngsters who no longer need to go to school on weekends due to the launch of the five-school day week.
In addition, during the exhibition period, the museum will offer lectures for elementary school teachers on exhibition appreciation education for youth. The Deoksugung Gallery will open this exhibition to the general public free of charge after completing its grand restoration/construction project. Along with The Centennial Celebration of Lee In-sung's Birth exhibition, the National Museum of Art, Deoksugung is holding an exhibition titled Modern Masterpieces from the Museum Collection: Poetry and Dreams (featuring 90 works of art by 50 artists) on the 3rd floor, to enable visitors to view masterpieces of Korean contemporary art in a permanent exhibition space. The museum also plans to transform itself into a museum with a focus on contemporary art in the near future.