China-N.Korea exhibition shows traditional friendship
Published: Oct 11, 2023 11:10 PM
Paintings on display at the Mansudae Art Museum in Beijing's 798 Art Zone Photo: Chen Xi/GT

Paintings on display at the Mansudae Art Museum in Beijing's 798 Art Zone Photo: Chen Xi/GT

An art exchange exhibition between China and North Korea is ongoing at the Mansudae Art Museum in Beijing's 798 Art Zone. It kicked off for the 798 Art Festival ahead of China's National Day.

Ji Zhengtai, curator of the Mansudae Art Museum, said this exhibition provides an excellent platform for artists from both countries to learn from and inspire each other, showcasing the harmony that underscores the traditional friendship between the two peoples.

According to Ji, 45 artworks were showcased during the exhibition, encompassing various art forms such as oil paintings, ink wash paintings and sculptures. The three North Korean artists - distinguished artist Kim In-sok, national first-class artists Om Yong-ho and Kim Sang-chun - are all member artists of North Korea's Mansudae Art Studio. Meanwhile, the three Chinese artists primarily engage in artistic creations with military themes.

The highlight of this exhibition is the contemporary artistic techniques employed in these artworks. One particularly memorable painting, The Village Chief Surnamed Ji, was created by artist Kim In-sok. 

"This artwork was inspired by my parents' story and my childhood," he said, explaining that his father was a dedicated village chief, handling both major and minor matters within the village. The painting depicts a village chief holding a kerosene lamp, illuminating his wife and young son, along with many old photographs from China in the 1970s.

"While the techniques used are modern, the emotions conveyed are genuine and timeless, which is a prominent characteristic of this exhibition," he said, ­adding that unlike many young artists who emphasize individuality and strive to be unique, the artworks of North Korean artists always remain "down-to-earth." 

"They possess a strong collective consciousness and adhere to the principles of creating art for the people and inheriting tradition, resulting in many soul-stirring works." 

One such example displayed in this exhibition is the series of artworks titled Pilgrimage, created by the prestigious Kim In-sok, who was moved by stories of Tibetan pilgrimages while browsing through magazines and watching ­television during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ji said that the exhibited artworks complement each other harmoniously. For instance, placing the artwork Red Memories by venerable Chinese artist Yan Ling alongside Recollections by North Korean artist Kim Hun creates the impression of a unified composition. 

Ji said that some visitors, without reading the introductions, may find it difficult to distinguish which artworks were created by North Korean artists and which ones were created by Chinese artists. 

"This demonstrates the borderless nature of art, and the overall atmosphere of the exhibition truly highlights the deep friendship between China and North Korea."

The Mansudae Art Museum is a joint venture by Beijing Jixichang Culture and the Mansudae Art Studio, one of the largest centers of art production in the world. Officially opened in May 2008, the museum is the only cultural and artistic institution that North Korea has invested in overseas for cultural exchanges, according to Ji.