Saturday, August 6, 2016

Art Gallery - Korean Street Art @ Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을)

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Korean Street Art @ Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을)
Gamcheon, Busan, South Korea - June 2016
The Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan is an interesting place. Sure the place is often full of tourists, but the residents have managed to keep their style of life even against the tide of visitors. Other than the villagers cultural ways, Gamcheon is also full of art, art of their own style too. We visited it after a hard cycling up-hill to the village while on a cycling tour of South Korea and enjoyed the place and it's street art very much. Below are some photos of the artwork we saw there. Most of the descriptions are from Gamcheon's Tourist Brochure while others are from description signs next to the artwork. Enjoy!

Even as before we entered the village, there were already indications of it being an artsy place; this signage just a few metres before the village entrance gave us an inkling of what to expect.

On entry into the village, are these two buildings, this is the Gamcheon Museum. On the walls are murals of the village titled "Gamcheon Arirang" by Jeon Migyeong.

A close up view of a section of the wall mural "Gamcheon Arirang" by Jeon Migyeong, with dark clay kimchi pots in front.

The Gamcheon Museum exhibits photos and artwork detailing the history of Gamcheon Village.

Fishes seems to be a favourite them in Gamcheon's artworks, perhaps it's because Busan is a fishing port and also because flowing fishes give a sense of liveliness.

Slightly further on are these statues of birds with human heads titled "People And Birds" by Jeong Yeongjin - "Everyone must have imagined flying in the sky. This piece conveys that wish to sometimes fly the sky like birds leaving everything behind".

Close up view of the human-headed birds sculpture titled "People And Birds" by Jeong Yeongjin.

Another close up view of the human-headed birds sculpture.

Top town view of the human-headed birds sculpture.

Wall mural reflecting the scenery of building on the opposite side of the street. This two-storey high mural is titled "Looking At Each Other" by Na Inju - "Like a large mirror reflecting an image, the large mural on the side walls show the reflected image of the alley scenery in front of the building".

A large fish wall mural made up from smaller pieces of stylised fish paintings on planks. This is titled "Fish Swimming Through The Alley" by Jin Yeongseop - "The work represents the alley which is the communication channel of the residents. The unconstrained movement of the fishes makes this enchanting living space full of vitality".

 Tail view of the "Fish Swimming Through The Alley" by Jin Yeongseop - "The narrow alleys in Gamcheon village is a communication channel for villagers, a laundry place for mothers and a front yard for families. The free movement of the fish in such an ordinary life space creates vividity to the alley".

Close up of the giant fish head shows the timber plank stylised painting of fishes.

These colourful concentric circles porcelain discs leading up the steps represents the villagers - "The village members, with various expressions on their faces holding thousands of stories inside them, are described as concentric circles with different colours and sizes, which are then expressed as tree leaves. The work reflects the wish for continuous growth and prosperity of this village, just as a tree which keeps growing and bearing fruits".

A close up look of one of the colourful disc "villager", what story does it tell?
The side and back alleys of Gamcheon are dotted with artwork, explore every nook and cranny and be surprised by what they reveal - both in artwork and in the colourful villagers themselves too.

More fishes, these are rendered in 3-D form, all swimming in a single direction reflecting the unity of the residents. The fishes are of the same form representing oneness of the people, and of different colours showing their diversity. It's a theme of unity in diversity.

Front view of the shoal of fishes; the lead fish is the same size as the others, this reflects that a leader is humbly equal to other members.

A thinking man reflecting mood - wall mural on a shop behind yellow-black lined traffic bollards.

Clocks on the wall, something similar to Salvador Dali's painting "The Persistence of Memory".

Wall mural of a kissing loving couple at the side of a shop selling love-locks. Locks bought are hung on to the railings on the shop's flat roof. There is a good view of the village from there, buy a lock, whether you are there as couple all just by yourself and get a great view wile at the same time leave a locking mark behind.

Pink elephant and a red flower. This wall mural was at a occupied open car-park, hence this angle of vision.

Charlie Chaplin's quote - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."

Books on shelves murals on the stairs leading to the Cheon Deok Su's Well - "When I was organising old books on the shelf, books kept on dropping. One of the open scattered books caught my eye, it was a poem titled "My Village Wish Well Story".... it goes on to narrate the poem and closes with another quote "I covered the book and suddenly asked myself, "Have I considered myself more than others could?"".

At a landing above, there was a covered well with a water hand pump; this was Cheon Deok Su's Well. The early descriptive text (in the previous photo) tells the story the village facing a long period of draught and of how Cheon Deok Su persistently dug a well in the centre of the village.
 Around it were wall murals of scenes from the village's past (rendered in sepia to give a feeling of "times gone by").

A wall mural depicting Cheon Deok Su's well.

Flowery floor murals and in the back ground a smiling Happy Heart.

There were many other murals below, I espied one with fishes, and to the left one with faces of children. Now the thing is how to get down there? From a bird's eye view above I roughly plotted a route down stairs and through narrow alleys, noting distinct buildings as landmarks.

Success! And the fish mural looked so much better up close!

But I could not reach this one and could only view it from afar; it's titled "Village Wriggling" by Jin Yeongseop - "The landscape of Gamcheon village where houses are jammed together is transformed into a living creature brimming with vivacity".

Near the southern end of the village where these sculpture of houses of different shape and colours. It's "Our Town Gamcheon" by Jin Yeongseop - "The houses that seem similar at a glance but are actually different remind us of unity within the diversity found among mankind".

Nearby was the piece that looked like a fish and titled "Nostalgia" by Park Eunsaeng - "A visualisation of Jeong Jiyong's poem Nostalgia. A change in form shows the past times, the present and the time to come". Interestingly it was made mainly with shining stainless still Korean characters, presumably from words of the poem.

Lower down the wall a swirling dragon flies downwards. It's made from plank pieces of fish paintings.

A directional sigh leading to Nainju's Studio, I tried to locate the studio but could not find it in between the maze of alleys. The fish seems to be eating up Gamcheon; I leave the interpretation of this open.

"The Little Prince and the Fennec Fox" gazing downwards at the village is a favourite among visitors; many pose standing between the two - "The little prince who left his home planet and came to Gamcheon Village (also know as Gamcheon Taegeuk Village) after a long journey with the fennec fox from Earth. They are looking down at the village, while sitting on a parapet and taking a break in the middle of their journey." A fennec fox is a small sharp-eared nocturnal fox from the Sahara of North Africa.

Colourful flowery jeans walking on their own up a slope, act as standing vases to decorate the road side.

More colourful walking jeans vases.

Close up view of the top of the sculpture "Sweet Whispers Of Dandelions" by Shin Mugyeong.

While looking at the larger pieces, don't miss the smaller ones like this brass statues of lady musicians dressed in blue gowns...

... or this little pig monk carrying a red flower shaped sack; is this Pigsy (Zhue Baije) from the classic tale of "The Journey To The West"



Gamcheon 2(i)-dong, Saha-gu, Busan, South Korea.
Tel: +82 70-4219-5556

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