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Art on Seoul subway line enlivens commute

An installation view of the exhibition “Painting Study” along the Ui-Sinseol Subway Line (MMCA)
An installation view of the exhibition “Painting Study” along the Ui-Sinseol Subway Line (MMCA)

The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, has organized an art exhibition at 11 stations in northern Seoul in collaboration with the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

“Painting Study,” which runs until Aug. 31, features 61 paintings by Kook Dong-wan and installation artist Vakki at the stations along the Ui-Sinseol Subway Line. The line connects Ui-dong in Gangbuk-gu with Sinseol-dong in Dongdaemun-gu.

Kook and Vakki were selected for the MMCA’s 2020 artist residency program. The artists are provided with live-in studios in Chang-dong, Dobong-gu, northern Seoul, for a year. They also get support in hosting seminars and exhibitions throughout the year.

The MMCA runs two residency programs -- the one in Chang-dong and another in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province. The application process begins in August for South Korean applicants and in September for international artists and researchers.

Fifty-seven pieces by Kook, who explores the world of the unconscious through painting, are on display in the subway art exhibition. One painting, “Around #1,” depicts the lives of ordinary apartment dwellers. Another, “A Ferry,” deals with the Sewol ferry disaster of 2014, which killed more than 300 passengers.

Installation artist Vakki, whose works run the gamut from interactive media to kinetic installation and graphic design, seeks to interpret the process of moving and creating objects, questioning the cycle of existence through kinetic works using graphics and installations. Four works by Vakki are on show at “Painting Study.”

“We hope the exhibition could give the citizens an opportunity to appreciate artworks at subway stations and lend vitality to the city suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Yun Bummo, director of the MMCA.

The Ui-Sinseol Subway Line, which began operating in 2017, is dubbed an “art railway” for the variety of exhibitions held at its 13 stations in place of commercial advertisements.

By Park Yuna (