I wrote a bit about the part of Tongyong called Donpirang Art Village and there is a still a bit more to say about the politics of art on walls.
And some more things to show you about what we saw and where went in this place.
Probably the most famous muralist of the last century was Diego Rivera and as we know he was a communist who knew that images on the outsides of buildings are a smashing good way to educate the masses about what the moneyed classes are up to – and it’s all even nicer if you can get rich people to pay for it all, innit? Not unlike the situation in this small neighborhood in South Korea, the presence of a painting on a building improves the resale value of the real estate, though perhaps more so when the artist has some fame like Rivera.
But then, there is the message. And the message can sometimes be a problem, as Diego himself found out when he accepted a commission for the Rockefeller Center in New York.
Near the end of our walk at Donpirang, at the bottom of the hill, we came across this rather impressive work, of which I’ll show you only a section, as it continues for most of an entire city block.
The message here can hardly be missed because the artist so earnestly wants you to discern it that it is all spelled out, first in English and then in Korean: ‘EVERYTHING FOR EVERYBODY NOT ONLY FOR A FEW GREEDY FAMILIES.’
The entire work depicts 4 or 5 dozen people – sorry, I didn’t count them all – who have shaped history, and I wish I could claim to be able to recognize them all but no such luck, sorry you’ll have to make the trip and see the others on your own. I’ll tell you that at the start is what looks to be Adm Yi Sunshin, later there’s Einstein with his tongue hanging out, Lenin, Marx holding a copy of Das Capital, and I’m sure I saw Groucho further on also, Frida Kahlo (so that probably means Diego is in there somewhere), Mao, maybe Allen Ginzberg (not sure), Castro, Ghandi and Malcolm X … and Van Gogh with a bandage over his ear.
No American presidents, not Lincoln the Emancipator or even Gen Douglas MacArthur, who actually has a statue in his honor up in Incheon near where he brought his amphibian invasion. And you know what, I’m cool about that also.
We went to a rather large park in honor of Adm Yi, and the views from the promontory are impressive and majestic. Instead of that, I’m going to show you this urinal for children, which seems to be in the shaped of a cartoon animation character. I don’t know what kind of message is being sent here, and I’m not going to speculate … how much do we really want to know?
We walked through the park back to the marina area and on the way we passed by some fish distribution plants. We won’t sit down at a seafood restaurant in Seoul unless we can see tanks of water with the critters still alive until we order them, and I’ve seen trucks trundling through the streets on their way to my favorite sit-down places. Well, looks like this is where those trucks come from.
There’s no question what the high point of the trip was, and that has to be the far too brief few hours spent with a new friend. Roy Cruz stood next to me in a group photo last April when a lot of us got together to pick up our photos from the P&I Exhibition, and we exchanged just a very few tiny words but it was enough for me to remember later the name of the city he had traveled up from to be there, so I contacted him through social media a few days before we were to depart, fully expecting him to have other plans. But he made time for us, met us at the marina, took us to his favorite kimchi chiggae place – by very weird coincidence it was just across the street from the fish restaurant we had been to the night before – and then took us around to a few paces in his car.
One of the places was a different marina, not used by fishing boats but rather by yachts. I love night photography but I have a whole lot more to learn in order to do it well. This one below is probably the only good one I can point to from that evening.
marina at night
Roy mentioned in passing that he was intending to come back and shoot the twilight hues from this vantage, either morning or sunset, and a few weeks later I was browsing through his site and came across this, taken from the exact same spot. Damn nice, isn’t it? Roy really is one of our very best landscape practitioners.
I love to look at that kind of thing but I not only don’t have the exact skill set for it yet, it is not where my inclinations lead me right now. The next day we had some time before the bus would take us home so we came back to the yacht club marina and we sat outside in good weather ad drank some cocktails. I took some shots expressly aimed at doing some abstract work based on reflections of light on water.
I was able to come up with this one, which I decided I liked well enough to show it to you here. This is very heavily photo-shopped from the original, of course, but when the goal is art rather than illustration, you should be using every tool you have and then go out and find some more …