Where Art Meets Life

Singapore Tatler - - LIFE ART -

Sul­wha­soo re­minds us that beauty can be found in the most un­likely of places, says Nicolette Wong

mag­ine this: it is a bright sunny day, a gen­tle breeze is rustling through the leaves, and you are walk­ing through a lightly forested area. As you turn a cor­ner, you spot a strange sight. A bush of vi­brant gnarled wires blocks your progress, each me­tal thread in­ti­mately en­twined with its brethren to form a sparse web, stand­ing as high as you are tall. The earth un­der the wires is dis­turbed, as though some­thing has been up­rooted from its depths. Then, you no­tice that the wires are at­tached to a felled me­tal lamp post, whose elon­gated body rests just be­yond their colour­ful tan­gle. In a space sur­rounded by strate­gi­cally placed trees and well-trod­den paths, this is a strange sight in­deed. This, the guide tells you, is Mi­rage, the art piece cre­ated by Korean artist Kim Myeong­beom. As you might have guessed, the fallen lamp post in the park is not a co­in­ci­dence; no lamp post ex­isted there be­fore, and Kim is no guer­rilla artist. Mi­rage is one of 12 artis­tic works that had been com­mis­sioned by Korean beauty brand Sul­wha­soo as part of its an­nual Sul­wha Cul­tural Ex­hi­bi­tion in Seoul. The ex­hi­bi­tion is in­tended to en­rich the cul­tural land­scape of Korea—sul­wha­soo’s way of giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity and cre­at­ing more beauty in the world. Ev­ery year, artists from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines are asked to cre­ate pieces around a cer­tain theme. For 2017, that theme was an old Korean fairy tale called A Fairy and a Wood­cut­ter, seen through mod­ern eyes. The tale of the fairy and wood­cut­ter is a bit­ter­sweet one, with themes of en­trap­ment, love, aban­don­ment, for­give­ness and fil­ial piety. The artists in­volved in this year’s Sul­wha Cul­tural Ex­hi­bi­tion were from vary­ing dis­ci­plines, and care­fully cho­sen to present a di­verse range of per­spec­tives on the fairy tale. Kim’s Mi­rage fo­cused on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween hu­mans and the en­vi­ron­ment. The wood­cut­ter was sur­rounded by trees and na­ture in an­cient times, but today’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion fea­tures mod­ern street lamps and wires. On the other end of the artis­tic spec­trum was the Fairy’s Robe of Feath­ers, an em­broi­dered robe cre­ated by Koo Hye-ja, a tra­di­tional needlework ar­ti­san who is des­ig­nated a mas­ter of Korea’s na­tional in­tan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage. Her splen­did em­broi­dery dec­o­rated her imag­i­na­tion of the fairy’s robe. Lee Sungmi, on the other hand, cre­ated Mem­ory Gar­den (Mem­ory Stor­age), a breath­tak­ing in­stal­la­tion of del­i­cate flow­ers cre­ated from shat­tered glass that had been col­lected from car crashes. The work was in­tended to pro­vide heal­ing and peace, act­ing as a form of emo­tional cleans­ing for feel­ings of trauma and neg­a­tiv­ity. The ex­hi­bi­tion, which ended in Oc­to­ber, was spread across Sul­wha­soo’s flag­ship store in Seoul and the neigh­bour­ing Dosan Park, where view­ers could en­joy both the com­forts of moder­nity and the seren­ity of na­ture. If you ask us, the ex­hi­bi­tion is al­ways one to look for­ward to ev­ery year.

FAIRY LAND The Sul­wha Cul­tural Ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tured dif­fer­ent takes on the theme of A Fairy and a Wood­cut­ter with art­works such as Mi­rage (above), Fairy’s Robe of Feath­ers (above left) and Mem­ory Gar­den (Mem­ory Stor­age) (top)

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