Art as a political documentary.
Painting is a combat weapon. (by Pablo Picaso)
On August 15, the country of Afghanistan disappears behind history. It is genuinely shocking to see a country closing its doors in the 21st century.
I'm a Korean. Every Korean grows up hearing war stories. And always live in fear of war. But as time goes by, they get used to battle and go about their daily lives despite any threat. Some day a foreign reporter who visited South Korea was astonished to see South Koreans having a winter fishing festival right in front of the border at the moment when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened with a missile. As I read the article, I felt some difficulties for not being able to express about the psychology of these Koreans. Every human being goes through an intense trauma at some point. And when the trauma repeats itself, they get used to it. If they get used to this kind of thing, their mind will become dull no matter how strong a stimulus is given.
As a child, I was regularly trained to hide under my desk when the sirens sounded loud in the classroom to prevent damages from a war. I spent my elementary school days reading anti-communist books and drawing related posters. Probably it is likely to the childhood of all Koreans my age. And additionally from my parent's generation, I have heard through their real private stories over and over how cruel war is. So even though I didn't experience it directly, I got enough indirect experience. Perhaps, almost all Koreans have dreamed of a nightmare about this war at least once in their lifetime. And even now, the war has not ended in Korea. North Korea still fires missiles, and it reminds us of all nightmarish things. Koreans are nervous and nervous. And even though there are many social conflicts that continue to prevent these tragedies from repeating themselves, they have been united again and again.
I feel sad about the situation in Afghanistan. When I think of the socially disadvantaged weak left behind, especially children and women, my heart aches so much that I couldn't even sleep. Do you think there will be a future for them in the future? It hurts my heart even more because they have been abandoned with no place in the world to turn to. Indeed I can empathize even more by hearing the horrors of war and experiencing it indirectly. Many painters have been steadily drawing pictures of war hoping that future generations will recognize the horrors of war and pray for peace.
Artist Whanki Kim(1913–1974), Korea's representative a pioneering abstract artist, captured such a tragedy in his paintings to the extent that the Korean War completely changed the personal painting pattern itself. Through the 1951 evacuation train, he tried to inform the sorrow of the refugees who have recklessly driven to Busan and the horrors of war. Looking at his paintings, it seems that the pain of the generation that went through the war is concise.
Pablo Picasso tried to convey the brutality of war through the painting "War in Korea in 1951". Although he has never visited Korea, he has painted this piece after reading articles about the Korean War. Picasso made an effort to portray the horrors of society rather than the decoration of a living room through paintings. He wanted to focus on the reality that war is not about the problem who the murderer or the perpetrator is, but about the tragedy itself of innocent people. It shows the brutality of war that ruthlessly tramples down the women in the picture, the new life that grows in them, and their simple hopes. Looking at this painting reminds me of the children and women who are now abandoned in Afghanistan. I hope their hopes are somehow kept.
Personally, I painted to record the 4.3 Incident, an incident in Jeju Island, with a painting called Camellia. This painting is a vivid, true record of my deceased father. The Jeju 4.3 Incident was an armed clash between the armed forces of the Namro Party and the subjugation force that occurred on Jeju Island from March 1, 1947, to September 21, 1954, and a large number of residents were sacrificed in the process of suppressing the subjugation force. It is said that during the Korean War, the elderly in mountain villages always carried two flags. They showed American flag when the US troops came, and the Communist Party flag was shown when the communist party arrived, and they tried to protect their family. Poor people had no greed about political power and religious beliefs. They had only dreams of eating with their families, educating their children, and watching them grow. Perhaps not now? More than any ideology or faith, we want our families, especially future children, to grow up beautiful and healthy. I think that's enough. But the world is not so benevolent. Those who have power in the world always do it for their benefit.
At the time of the Jeju 4.3 incident, my father was eight years old. My grandfather was the principal of the Jeju Village Elementary School at the time. On the 4.3th, armed men from the South Korean Labor Party gathered people from schools, civil servants, and local officials in one place and shot them. At that time, my grandfather passed away at such a young age. My father's dad, held my father's little hand tightly and cried before he went to paradise. At that time, Jeju Island was a beautiful season when the camellia flowers were colorful and red. But these camellias flew over and covered the blood of many innocent citizens who were executed for ideology. That day, Jeju was dyed everywhere red. It doesn't matter whose fault it was, who was the trigger, or what wrong decision was made. Because even if it is revealed, the deceased will not come back. Whether by the communist party or by the government, the same things are still happening repeatedly. Historically, these weak people are constantly being exploited and abandoned, with or without an apology. That is one of the tragedies of war.
Picasso said like this. Do you think you can become a painter with only eyes, a musician with only ears, and a poet with only a harp in your heart? I'm sorry, Never! An artist is a political figure. Paintings do not exist to decorate an apartment or to decorate. Painting is a combat weapon that attacks and defends against enemies.
To not forget the mistake and not repeat it, many painters will be working hard to contain these real problems today. And I hope that even a little bit of these efforts will provide a little comfort to the weak and us.
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Myungja Anna Koh