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Rabbits hop into 2011 art scenes

Cautiously yet wisely, rabbits are hopping into Korea’s art scenes to celebrate the beginning of 2011, the Year of Rabbit on the Chinese Zodiac.

For art insiders, though, the appearance of the fuzzy and adorable animal is timely for another reason: It has been one of the most distinguished symbols of contemporary art since German artist Joseph Beuys showcased a performance titled “How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare” in 1965.

Among many rabbit-themed shows that are under way throughout the metropolitan area, the 110-meter-long fence installed around the former Defense Security Command Complex in Sogyeok-dong, central Seoul, definitely stands out. On a bright pink backdrop which is so unfitting with the classic area, it features a painting of a hare gearing up for a sprint.

Chung Seo-young, the artist behind “Take Your Rabbit,” explained that the awkwardness and unexpectedness of the work is actually the whole point of it.

“It was a rabbit which led us into a world of fantasy in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and also which reminds of Joseph Beuys. In other words, the rabbit symbolizes the mediator which leads us to contemporary art or could even be the contemporary art itself. I thought rabbit would be appropriate for this work as the new museum will introduce many unpredictable contemporary artworks in the future,” said Chung.

The fence will stay there throughout the year to shield the construction site for the National Museum of Contemporary Art’s new branch, which will be completed by 2013.

In a similar vein, Lotte Gallery in Avenuel in Sogong-dong, central Seoul, will display more than 40 rabbit-themed works by 16 Korean artists including Kang Sang-hun, Kim Eun-joo and Park Ad-jong, starting from Tuesday. 
“Rabbit” by Kim Eun-joo  (Lotte Gallery)
“Rabbit” by Kim Eun-joo  (Lotte Gallery)

Titled “Rabbit, Run,” the exhibition is expected to be packed with bunnies with different characters and meanings expressed in paintings, sculptures, installations and other media.

The National Museum of Korea in Yongsan-gu, central Seoul, is currently showcasing relics regarding rabbits at the exhibition “The Rabbit, an Animal of Wisdom” to shed new light on the meaning of the animal in Korean culture.

Divided into three sections, the exhibition introduces relics that focus on rabbits as one of the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs, those that view them as the animal of wit and, finally, artifacts that relate rabbits with the moon. 
“To Thine Own Self be True” by Park Ad-jong (Lotte Gallery)
“To Thine Own Self be True” by Park Ad-jong (Lotte Gallery)

The National Folk Museum of Korea in Gyeongbokgung, central Seoul is also showcasing rabbit-themed artworks and holding various educational programs at the exhibition “The Folk Tales of the Rabbit.” National Museum of Contemporary Art’s Children’s Art Hall in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province is holding the exhibition “The Moon Rabbit plays at the Children’s Gallery” which was inspired from late media artist Paik Nam-june’s monumental piece “Rabbit on the Moon.”

“The Folk Tales of the Rabbit” runs through Feb. 14 at the National Folk Museum of Korea in Gyeongbokgung, central Seoul. For more information, call (02) 3704-3114 or visit www.nfm.go.kr.

“The Moon Rabbit plays at the Children’s Gallery” runs through July 31 at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province. For more information, call (02) 2188-6137 or visit www.moca.go.kr.

“Rabbit, Run” runs through Feb. 21 at Lotte Gallery in Avenuel in Sogong-dong, central Seoul. For more information, call (02) 726-4438~9.

“The Rabbit, an Animal of Wisdom” runs through Feb. 27 at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan-gu, central Seoul. For more information, call (02) 2077-9000 or visit www.museum.go.kr.

By Park Min-young  (claire@heraldcorp.com)
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