MON, AUGUST 08, 2022
French artist's Seoul exhibition stresses coexistence with nature
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French artist's Seoul exhibition stresses coexistence with nature
  • By Korea.net
  • 승인 2022.07.13 01:41
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French contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel's "Gold Lotus" is on display at the pond of Deoksugung Palace in Seoul's Jung-gu District. (CJY Art Studio)
French contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel's "Gold Lotus" is on display at the pond of Deoksugung Palace in Seoul's Jung-gu District. (CJY Art Studio)

Deoksugung Palace was twice used as the royal palace during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), evincing a serene atmosphere in the middle of the capital and popular among both locals and foreign visitors. 

 

Since June 16, the pond at the palace has attracted numerous visitors thanks to "Gold Lotus," one of the artworks in the exhibition "Treasure Gardens" by the French contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel.

The Seoul Museum of Art in the city's Jung-gu District holds until Aug. 7 this exhibition not only on the first floor of its main hall but also at the museum's Outdoor Sculpture Park and the pond at Deoksugung Palace. The event displays 74 works by Othoniel including paintings, sculptures and installations.

Born in 1964 in Saint-Etienne, France, Othoniel creates a magic-like world by using materials such as glass, stainless steel and gilt. Saying art and artists should be outside a gallery to fully engage with viewers, he has held exhibitions in public places such as the Palace of Versailles and Petit Palais in his country.

His exhibition at Deoksugung is the largest of its kind by the artist, bigger than that in Petit Palais last year. 

"The Knot of Babel" (left) and "The Knot of the Imaginary" by the French contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel are displayed at the entrance to the Seoul Museum of Art in Seoul's Jung-gu District. Both works are part of a series highlighting the enduring value of art. (CJY Art Studio)
"The Knot of Babel" (left) and "The Knot of the Imaginary" by the French contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel are displayed at the entrance to the Seoul Museum of Art in Seoul's Jung-gu District. Both works are part of a series highlighting the enduring value of art. (CJY Art Studio)

The title of the exhibition is "Treasure Garden." What does a garden mean to you?
The garden is where we stroll, take a rest and receive energy. It exists in all cultures around the world. It's also a mental space where our thoughts and dreams are built.

Was this your first visit to Korea? Where did you go?
I've visited Korea several times. I mostly stayed in Seoul, Busan and Jeju Island. I remember Jeju the most as "garden" is my main theme, and the island has abundant nature. 

You released your new work "Plum Flower" in this exhibition.Paintings are very special to me, as I mostly create sculptures. This new work of mine was inspired by the Korean plum flower after I discussed it at length with the museum curators. This flower has an important meaning in traditional Korean culture. It represents rebirth in being the first flower to bloom after winter ends. It is the perfect fit for us as the years-long pandemic is over.
You released your new work "Plum Flower" in this exhibition.Paintings are very special to me, as I mostly create sculptures. This new work of mine was inspired by the Korean plum flower after I discussed it at length with the museum curators. This flower has an important meaning in traditional Korean culture. It represents rebirth in being the first flower to bloom after winter ends. It is the perfect fit for us as the years-long pandemic is over.

You released your new work "Plum Flower" in this exhibition.
Paintings are very special to me, as I mostly create sculptures. This new work of mine was inspired by the Korean plum flower after I discussed it at length with the museum curators. This flower has an important meaning in traditional Korean culture. It represents rebirth in being the first flower to bloom after winter ends. It is the perfect fit for us as the years-long pandemic is over.

"Gold Necklace" by French contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, which is displayed at Seoul Museum of Art's Outdoor Sculpture Park in the city's Jung-gu District, is what he says represents himself. (CJY Art Studio)
"Gold Necklace" by French contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, which is displayed at Seoul Museum of Art's Outdoor Sculpture Park in the city's Jung-gu District, is what he says represents himself. (CJY Art Studio)
"Gold Lotus" by French contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel is installed at the pond of Deoksugung Palace in Seoul's Jung-gu District. The artist said he selected the venue for his exhibition after seeing the pond heavily covered by lotus leaves and a small bed of land floating on the pond. (CJY Art Studio)
"Gold Lotus" by French contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel is installed at the pond of Deoksugung Palace in Seoul's Jung-gu District. The artist said he selected the venue for his exhibition after seeing the pond heavily covered by lotus leaves and a small bed of land floating on the pond. (CJY Art Studio)

Both "Gold Necklace" at Outdoor Sculpture Park and "Gold Lotus" at the pond of Deoksugung Palace feature the color gold.
Korea's green vegetation blends perfectly with the artworks' golden colors. The light green of the leaves and dark green of the pond all blend well.

You used not only the museum but also outdoor public spots as venues for your exhibition.
I want my works made out of glass or stainless steel to be placed in a garden and interact with its venue. I particularly like to display them in public places to engage with people who lack big interest in contemporary art. This is extremely important as a crucial mission to communicate with the public worldwide. 

The following are excerpts from Korea.net's written interview with the Paris-based Othoniel on his exhibitions. 

"Blue River" can be seen on the first floor of Seoul Museum of Art in the city's Jung-gu District. (CJY Art Studio)
"Blue River" can be seen on the first floor of Seoul Museum of Art in the city's Jung-gu District. (CJY Art Studio)

Which work are you most attached to in this exhibition?
That would be "Blue River" on the museum's first floor. The embodiment of a river comprising about 7,500 blue bricks under 14 gigantic knots hanging from the ceiling is the largest brick bed that I've ever created. I was able to express the transition of a river into a vast ocean thanks to the vision and commitment of the museum's curators.

How would you briefly define the world of your works?
I think that the concept of hope and re-enchantment is at the heart of my creations. I believe in a better world and that art has a place in this mission.

What do you have to say to Korea.net readers who go see your exhibition?
They should start with the work at the pond of Deoksugung Palace. There, I ask them to find inner peace, contemplation and a moment of harmony with nature. I also hope that they see the pieces at Outdoor Sculpture Park and on the first floor exhibition in that calm mind. 

The poster for French contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel's personal exhibition "Treasure Gardens," which is on the first floor of Seoul Museum of Art and its Outdoor Sculpture Park. Admission is free. The entrance to select parts of the exhibition at Deoksugung Palace is KRW 1,000 for adults aged 24 and free for those aged 65 or over or those under 24. No reservation is necessary. (Seoul Museum of Art)
The poster for French contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel's personal exhibition "Treasure Gardens," which is on the first floor of Seoul Museum of Art and its Outdoor Sculpture Park. Admission is free. The entrance to select parts of the exhibition at Deoksugung Palace is KRW 1,000 for adults aged 24 and free for those aged 65 or over or those under 24. No reservation is necessary. (Seoul Museum of Art)

 


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