|Ryu Kyung-chai’s “Neighborhood of a Bare Mountain” is the winner of Korea’s first National Art Exhibition in 1949. The exhibition drew attention from the art circle as well as general public since it was the first official art event after Korea gained its independence from Japanese colonial rule.|
/ Courtesy of National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Role of artists in nation-building
Ahead of the 70th anniversary of independence next year, The Korea Times will publish a series of stories on the transformation of various cultural genres — art, music, movies and literature — during Japanese rule (1910-1945) and their roles in a new Korea after reclaiming sovereignty . The first segment looks at the contribution of artists during the founding years the nation. — ED.
By Kwon On Aug. 15, 1945, Korea regained independence from a 35-year Japanese rule with the end of World War II. The new country began a long journey toward modernization. Although not many are aware, artists were instrumental in this process.
They helped shaping the new nation by contributing to textbooks to portraits in banknotes and giving direction to the country’s future in an artistic way.
“Many artists, who were dormant during the Japanese colonial rule, spilled into the street after the establishment of the Korean government. Their works portrayed utopian state and hopes for the new country,” said Liu Jienne, curator of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA).