[Art] Adios Utopia at Walker Art Center

Although many artists have since emigrated from Cuba to live and work abroad, Adiós Utopia focuses on the untold narrative of those who remained in Cuba and whose careers emerged or who were educated on the island after Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution. The exhibition is divided into five thematic clusters, rather than chronological order, including “Sea, Borders and Exile” and “Inverted Utopias, Lost Illusions.” It was very special exhibition for Walker Art Center because the director of Walker Art Center, Olga Viso, herself is a Cuban American whose parents were Cuban exiles.

As a person who has grown up with going to European or Asian art exhibition for most of my life, Cuban art was a new realm to me. I thought this exhibition would be a great opportunity for me to explore and learn more about how Cuban artists tried to express their frustration on their home country through arts.



<Lázaro Saavedra,El sagrado corazón >cuba1<Glexis Novoa, “Sin titulo, de la Etapa practica”>cuba7cuba6cuba10cuba2

In order to understand the symbolic meaning behind these paintings, we need to have some background information on Cuban history after 1950s. The Cuban Revolution of 1959, which overtuned the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, represents one of the most transformative social revolutions of the 20th century. At that time, Fidel Castro was a 33-year-old activist lawyer and he led the movement aiming to build classless society with centralized economic system. But this Utopian idea from Fidel Castro soon turned out to be short-lived; the movement’s progress was tempered by factors ranging from autocratic leadership and economic catastrophe to political isolation. During this dark time, free-speech was limited and, of course, these art works were not permitted to present in public in Cuba.

With this background information, for example, the third picture from the above, the lighthouse with Fidel Castro face is looking at the red sky with the Soviet Union star while the lighthouse is located in the dark night world.

In the first picture,El sagrado corazón (The Sacred Heart), there is a figure of Jesus. The Jesus is talking about Soviet Union ideology while he is actually thinking of US capitalism represented by US flag. But the core of his heart is Cuban.



In the exhibition, there is an installation art called Apolítico by Wilfredo Prieto. As you can see in this picture, there are 45 flags recognized by United Nations without color as it you are in black-and-white movies.  The artist stripped the flags of their familiar colors, creating abstract and egalitarian versions.



<Alexis Leyva Machado (Kcho), Obras Escogidas>

A boat made of books illustrates the knowledge that left the island with the exiles.



<The picture of a boy fleeing from the country by swimming>


Five years ago, ‘Adiós Utopia’ would have seemed like an impossible exhibition; it might again today. In July 2014, Barack Obama announced a détente with the government of Raúl Castro, after more than half a century of cold war freeze. The Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Walker Art Center, took the sudden opening to negotiate a major loan of post-revolutionary artworks from the Cuban government. Art is a singular diplomat. By the time the exhibition opened in Houston, however, the next US President had reversed the thaw; most of the loans were withdrawn. Nevertheless, the remaining selection offers a broad survey of the development of a dynamic.



[Art] Nick Knight Photography

Seoul is growing as one of the culture hubs in Asia so there are more fascinating art&photo exhibitions nowadays. There are several art museums I always visit whenever I visit back to Korea and Daelim Museum is definitely one of them.


Daelim museum is located at the heart of Seoul near Kyungbok-Gung(Gung means palace) and it’s one of the best museums if you like modern photography& fashion arts. In the museum, you can see a lot of fashionable, artsy and young Koreans. When I visited the museum in January with my sister who studies fashion design, there was Nick Knight exhibition going on. As a person who used to have more interest in fashion and fashion photographies(I’m still interested in but not as much as when I was in high school), Nick Knight is an idol in fashion photography world. Like Steven Meisel.

Then Who is Nick Knight?


<Nick Knight, OBE>

Nick Knight OBE (born 1958) is a British fashion photographer and founder and director of SHOWstudio.com.  As a fashion photographer, he has consistently challenged conventional notions of beauty and is fêted for his groundbreaking creative collaborations with leading designers including Yohji Yamamoto, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen. Advertising campaigns for the most prestigious clients such as Christian Dior, Lancôme, Swarovski, Tom Ford, Calvin Klein or Yves Saint Laurent as well as award-winning editorial for W, British Vogue, Paris Vogue, Dazed & Confused, Another, Another Man and i-D magazines have consistently kept Knight at the vanguard of progressive image-making for the past three decades. He has directed award winning music videos for Bjork, Lady Gaga and Kanye West.



According to what I heard from the museum, Nick Knight started his photographer career from his early 20s in 1982. In 1980s, skinhead was not representing racists movement. Rather, it originated from working class youths in London. Nick Knight was attracted to these rebellious skinhead culture and it became his early inspiration.






kate moss

If you are at least a little interested in fashion, you all know Kate Moss. And this picture changed black and white.



<Daniel Day Lewis,1986>


lady gaga

<Lady Gaga>-We all know lady gaga, right? Her hairs in the picture looks like more charcoal drawing.


<Naomi Campbell in Yohji Yamamoto by Nick Knight, 1986.>-I didn’t even know she was Naomi Campbell. I think it’s amazing how Nick Knight has a talent to make the photography looks more paintings.


<Susie Smoking>

This one is absolutely my favorite that my phonescreen background has been this one for over 7 months. The light green background and purple outfit goes seamlessly in this picture. By not showing her eyes, it makes her more mysterious like Naomi Campbell picture.






Although Nick Knight has a reputation as a “fashion photographer”, he does not want to limit himself as a “fahsion photographer.”


Maybe modern and photographic version of Cubism?



This one is one of the most original still life photos I’ve ever seen. Who would have thought melting the surface of the photo?


Sadly, this exhibition ended a few months a go. But if you have a chance to see his exhibition around you, don’t miss it! It’s  a great opportunity to broad your horizon on your idea of photographies.

[Art][Travel] Croatian Museum of Naïve Art

<Featured Image:  Winter Landscape with Woman, Mijo Kovačić>

I have been to numerous art museums around the world including some of world famous gigantic art museums but it’s really the first time to see Croatian Naive Art. Near the St. Mark’s Church with beautiful mosaic roof, you can find the museum and it’s a hidden charm in Zagreb if you like going to art museum. It’s kind of art works that are hard to find outside of Croatia.  Maybe it’s the most Croatian things you’ll see.

The museum is small so it would take more or less than one hour to thoroughly look around art works in the museum. There are not many people in the museum so if you like to enjoy appreciating art work quietly, this is the place for you!

(I loved the interior design here. So modern and simple!)

In Croatia, naïve art was at first connected with the works of peasants and working men, ordinary men and women unlike famous European(mostly French) artists trained in professional art schools. Naïve art assumes the work of artists who are more or less self-taught, painters and sculptors with no formal art training, but who have achieved their own creative style and a high level of art. An identifiably individual style and poetic nature distinguishes the Naïve from other “amateur” painters and sculptors, and from the general self-taught artist.

Of the artists exhibited, Ivan Generalić  and Ivan Rabuzin are most popular ones in the museum. Ivan Generalić  is so called ‘the founder of Naïve Art”.

Here are some paintings by Ivan Generalić .

self portrai




deer in the forest

<Deer in the Forest,1956>

For Ivan Generalić, his home was and Yugoslavian peasant life of that time was his inspiration. Come to think of it, during traveling for 10 days in Croatia, I had not paid close attention to the life of peasants in Croatia.

Here are some paintings by other artists. It’s fun to notice the different and identifiable style of each artist.

on the hills

<On the Hills, Primeval Forest, Ivan Rabuzin,1960>

Ivan Rabuzin is the second most important painter’s in this art movement, arguably. His paintings are very dreamlike than realistic so the museum said his paintings are particularly popular among Japanese visitors.

raskisni brod

<Raskosni brod, Drago Jurak, 1974>

Hmm.. it looks like colorful version of Noah’s Ark.



<Gvajana, Josip Generalić, 1978>

This painting was one of the most memorable ones for me. Josip is a son of the founder of this art trend. I googled ‘Gvajana’ and the search result showed  the country ‘Guyana’. I assumed the painting reflects the impression of the country to the artist. When I saw it People in the paintings look young  and they seem to be fallen asleep after heavy drinking. I thought ‘Was he trying to show Guyana was kind of hedonistic’? It rather looks like the rebel of the Naive Art.  I was curious.

From Googling, I found out that he was actually showing the gruesome aftermath of Jim Jones mass suicide, with a pair of monkeys watching at the smiling corpses. After knowing the background, the painting appears to me quite grotesque.

The wind in winter

<The wind in Winter, 1973,Dragan Gaži>

This painting was one of my favourites. I really like the color of sky. The contrast in color between the sky and the snow is quite beautiful with all the barren trees and humble houses covered with snow.  Among naive arts, Winter scenes are the most common because artisitic peasants are taking rest from farming during the winter.



<Swineherd ,1967,Mijo Kovačić>

This is painted by the same painter in the featured image of this blog. I also like this painter because of the beautiful color. When my family was driving from Krka national park to Plitvice national park, we passed by rural area of Croatia and the color of sunset was really an astonishing combination of orange and red exactly like the one in this painting. I was jealous of the peasants of Croatia a little bit for their privilege to watch this beautiful sunset everyday.


These paintings are painted by Emerik Feješ in 1950s and 1960s. Unlike majority of painters in the museum, Emerik likes to paint famous tourist attractions in Europe. The third one is Saint Chapelle and actually that’s one of my favourite chapels in Europe,or whole world. I was so happy to see Saint Chapelle in the museum. Surprisingly, the painter never visited those places. He got black-and-white post cards of these places and apply colors he likes.


It is amazing to see how these artists with humble background in art were able to develop their own distinctive styles and settled their style as one of the genres in art. As I said earlier, it’s something very distinct from the art from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

If you have extra time after this museum, there is “Broken Relationship Museum”!

[Art]Hundertwasser exhibition

While I was staying in Seoul in January, I was looking for art exhibitions that are hard to find in the US. The first exhibition I went in this year is this one: Hundertwasser exhibition in Sejong cultural center. Sejong cultural center is in Gwang-hwa-mun area where it was crowded with thousands of people for protesting against the president every Saturdat night. It was one of quite weekdays but you can see some people are protesting hard core by staying in a tent in Gwang-hwa mun until she’s officially kicked out.

Hundertwasser(in German, it means hundred water) is not a complete stranger to me. I’ve seen his architect in Wien.


My first impression on him is that “oh, he’s really similar to Antoni Gaudí”and that was my impression on him until I attended this exhibition. He was a real hippie andpursue environment -friendly life. He had dreamt of “Green City” and inspired Vienna to become more environment-friendly.

Hundertwasser was an Austrian-born New Zealand artist and born in a Jewish family in 1928. He stood out as an opponent of “a straight line” and any standardization, expressing this concept in the field of building design. He was fascinated by spirals and called straight lines “godless and immoral” and “something cowardly drawn with a rule, without thought or feeling”. You will be able to see how much he loved spirals in this blog post afterward.

The exhibition contained a lot of various methods of his works. There were painting,carpet arts and models of his architects.

As you can see in the left below painting, he emphasized” we are guest in the earth” and this message penetrates most or almost all of his works. You can obviously see how he loved to use spirals. The interesting thing is that he didn’t put the title of his works but his aficionado named his works.

After I bought the admission ticket, I was very lucky to listen principal curator’s explanations on this exhibition. She did a great job in explaining his ideals and I was amazed how she was so passionate about this exhibition.


And this is the miniature of Rogner Bad Blumau which is a famous resort in Austria. It is said that Hobbiton was inspired by this design. As it is wellness hotel, Hunderwasser wanted it to be close to the nature. The design of the thermal park, which originally opened in 1997, boasts colorful patchwork façades and green roofs, without a single straight line in sight. arranged like a city with various districts, the indoor ring-shaped spa is the center, with the diverse range of accommodation, swimming, bathing and restaurant areas branching out into the open landscape.

This is the real  Rogner Bad BlumauIt would be really dreamy and relaxed if I stay here and take a break for a week.


Can you imagine it’s actually a waste incineration plant? This is the miniature of waste incineration plant near Vienna.

Copyright: Wien Energie/Hubert Dimko

Hundertwasser also wanted the incineration plant look aesthetically great. It was a great model for urban design so many civil servants from the world came to visit this place.

And this art works are made of carpet works. The curator also mentioned that he used to have two studios: one in Mexico and the other in Vienna. Interestingly, the style created from two studios are different that one done in Mexico is more fierce while the one done in Vienna is more soft. Can you spot which one is made in which studio?

the death of thousand windows


Here is his poet. If you see closely on the right bottom side of the work, you can notice Chinese old characters. As a matter of fact, he was intrigued in Japanese arts so he occasionally visited Japan as well. In this poet, he was very passionate about “green” and he was a passionate environment activist.In 1980, Hundertwasser visited Washington DC to  oppose nuclear proliferation. Hundertwasser planted trees in Judiciary Square and advocated on behalf of a co-op owner who was fined for designing her own window. Mayor Marrion Barry declared November 18 to be Hundertwasser Day.
In latter part of his life, he immigrated to New Zealand where he considered it’s less artificial and more natural and spent his life until his death. He planted lots of trees in New Zealand and his last words was to bury his body after cremation under one of his trees so that he can be back to the nature soil.
“I am looking forward
to become humus myself
buried naked without coffin
under a beech tree planted by myself
on my land in ao tea roa.”
From the exhibition, I definitely got to learn his art and message is more than pure aesthetic. Although this exhibition is already closed, I wish I can see his works again somewhere in the world. As he wished, I hope that many people around the world reckon the importance of nature and accept that we are the guest in earth.

Summer afternoon in Frogner Park and the human zoo

My memories about my past trips pop up a lot recently so I decided to write one more for today.

I went to my first solo trip in August 2014 and the trip was from West Norway to Paris &Bretagne.  During the 3-week-solo-trip, I visited my Norwegian friend in Oslo and luckily stayed in her apartment for two nights. One day, she told me I should visit Frogner Park and she was willing to walk with me after her work. We took off from the train in majorstuen which is affluent neighborhood in Oslo.



Even in June and July, the weather in Oslo can be chilly. Very luckily, I was there in early August so weather was incredibly nice for me(8C-20C, I’m not a big fan of hot summer) and you can see a lot of pretty flowers in downtown Oslo including this park.

Frogner park( aka Vigeland Sculpture Park) has a lot of sculptures all by Vigeland who is the most admired sculptor in Norway. This is the biggest park in the world dedicated to single artist.  When it comes to Norwegian artist, almost all the people would think of Edvard Munch. Of course, Edvard Munch is the most well known but I feel that Vigeland is more loved by Norwegian people. Many local people would enjoy jogging in the park as well as tourist taking walk in the park.

Vigeland Sculptures are very different from sculptures that you will see in Rome, Louvre, Britain museums and Greece. His sculptures are very far from what we think ideal bodies look like.


Along the way, my friend and I saw this sculture, “angry boy”. She said it’s one of the most famous small sculptures in the park and she doesn’t know why. Hmm…I don’t know why, either.




And here comes the rainbow! On the pile of people…

AND…..Here is the monolith. The monolith is the centerpiece of Vigeland’s project. If you see it in person, it’s ENORMOUS! It’s 46 feet tall depicting 121 figures climbing in and around each other, all fighting their way to the top.I think it’s one of the arts that describes humans life most accurately. It’s not exactly look like this but we’re living in the competitive world where we have to fight to the top in order to reach the highest reward. It’s the most bizarre sculptures I’ve seen but somehow I really love it and still miss enjoying sculptures in relatively warm weather in Oslo.


After watching his sculptures, we explored side part of the park. Then, we found out this and my friend wondered why the government reopened racist exhibition in 1914.


In 1914, there was an exhibition in this park to show people from Congo. Norwegians brought about 80 people from Congo and basically made Africans zoo exhibition. Norway was much more isolated country back then so the exhibition was a hot topic across the country that 1.4mil Norwegians came to Oslo to see the human zoo and the total population at that time was 2 mil. In other words, about 70 % of people in the country saw this exhibition. The picture below is from the exhibition in 1914.

And this is the reopened exhibition in 2014 and it was reopenedone century after the exhibition. But this time, it’s different. There is no Congolese in the reopened exhibition.

The main reason why they reopened this exhibition was to remind how they were ignorant about racism issue at that time.congo

In the picture, you can see “we are rebuilding the village in order to address issues around historical amnesia, misrepresentations, the evolution of racism”. After reading the explanation, we agreed it was a good idea to recall the ignorance in the past and become more beware of it for better future.

When we made mistakes or faults, it’s not our first instinct to reckon our faults and openly apologize it. Mostly, we want to hide it wishing not many people find it out. Even some people would try to deny what they have been done. It is the most ethical when you are openly apologize for your faults but certainly it’s not easy. In this case, it’s not even an individual case.

From the trip, rebuilding the “human zoo” was one of the most memorable parts.I’m still moved how Norwegians are honest about their mistakes in the past and I saw potential that Norway will remain as one of the least corrupted countries in the world (in 2016, it’s the fifth least corrupted country. CPI:86 and CPI equal to 0 means it’s the most corrupted. )

Starry Night over Rhone and the Stendhal syndrome

Have you ever seen the paintings stirring your emotion so strongly? Or have you ever heard of Stendhal syndrome(aka Florence syndrome)?

“I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty… I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations… Everything spoke so vividly to my soul. Ah, if I could only forget. I had palpitations of the heart, what in Berlin they call ‘nerves.’ Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling.”(Stendhal)

Despite being an art-museum goer, I thought this syndrome was a merely exaggeration from an exuberant French writer until I saw this painting in Musée d’Orsay. As a big fan of Gogh paintings for many years, I already have seen many of his paintings including the famous Starry Night in MOMA at NYC. But this painting was the only painting that it nearly made me cry. I tried really hard to hold my tears.

I knew that Gogh’s life as an artist was quite miserable already financially and mentally.  But this painting is astonishingly beautiful but at the same time, I can sense his loneliness spending long time drawing the riverside for a long time. It marveled me how Gogh saw the world in so different and more beautiful way.

I was gazing this painting for a while.I overheard people saying “It’s pretty. No wonder Gogh’s paintings are expensive“. They watched the painting about five seconds and left.

Well, I thought it was the most beautiful painting in the museum but it might be one of the prettiest paintings in the museum for many people.

Do you have any starstruck moment over a certain painting? If not, I wish you experience that. It’s an amazing memory.


[Book recommendation]

“Van Gogh, the complete paintings”,Taschen, Rainer Metzger &Ingo F. Walther


It’s a VERY HEAVY and Lengthy book but it worths reading if you are a die hard fan of Gogh. Van Gogh, who took up a variety of professions before becoming an artist, was a solitary, despairing and self-destructive man. This richly illustrated and expert study follows the artist from the early gloom-laden paintings in which he captured the misery of peasants and workers in his homeland, through his bright and colorful Parisian period, to the work of his final years, spent under a southern sun in Arles.