[Herald Interview] Bang Ui-geol brings ink paintings to immersive digital museum
“Showers I” by Bang Ui-geol (Courtesy of the artist)
An ink wash painting shows rain falling through a forest mostly in black and white. Although it’s a still image, 84-year-old painter Bang Ui-geol’s “Showers I” seems to bring the misty scene to life, evoking the sound of heavy raindrops hitting the trees and gurgling of a valley stream.
Bang has devoted his entire life to ink wash paintings, known as “sumukhwa”, which are created with black ink and brush. The different concentrations of black ink create distances and a deep and mysterious atmosphere. Some paintings have watercolors added very lightly.
Ink wash paintings, which began to flourish in the Joseon period, are now done in a variety of styles. Bang, who draws inspiration from nature and adds imagination to his paintings, has developed his own unique style, telling his story through art.
“The ink has its own deep, subdued flavor,” the artist said during an interview with The Korea Herald in late May. “It’s because the ink permeates the hanji (traditional Korean mulberry paper); it’s different from oil paints. When you paint with oil colors on a canvas, you’re literally “painting” , but the ink soaks in after you leave it for hours.
“It seems to seep (into the hanji) thousands of miles deep,” he added.
“Forest I” by Bang Ui-geol (Courtesy of the artist)
Bang collaborated with Arte Museum, Jeju Island, an immersive media art museum founded by strict’s digital design company, for the exhibition “Light in Time, Bang Ui-Geol” which opened on June 22 in the museum garden. The 263 square meter area currently features four exhibitions, including Bang’s, where his ink wash paintings are transformed into immersive media art.
When asked to collaborate with a digital design firm for the immersive exhibition, he accepted because he saw a chance to show people how fascinating ink wash paintings are.
“It was an adventure, but it depends on the spectators who come to the museum and appreciate my work. I don’t want to be selective about how my work should be presented,” he said. “I made sure to retain as much of the original vision of the ink wash paintings as possible, despite being presented digitally.”
During the exhibition at the Arte Museum, digital raindrops burst against the towering screens erected in the cavernous room displaying media art inspired by Bang’s painting. Immersive technology, plus imagination-boosting rain and music sounds, make it feel like you’re caught in the rain while walking through a forest.
An installation view of “Light in Time, Bang Ui-Geol” at the Arte Museum on Jeju Island (D’strict)
Rain is often featured as a central theme in Bang’s paintings because he loves wet weather.
“There are many different types of rain,” Bang said. “There is rain that I would like to go through endlessly and get soaked. Light, soft rain is also good. I love the sound of raindrops falling on a tin roof.
Bang said it was at the age of 60 that he finally realized the beauty of ink wash paintings. Although the ink color looks quite dark, it contains all the colors.
“You easily notice the colors red, blue and yellow. But the ink color is different,” he said. “People are attracted to visually stimulating things and don’t try to find out how beautiful ink wash paintings look.”
“But now I really know the beauty of ink wash paintings. I wouldn’t change my path as an ink wash painter no matter how much money was offered to me,” he said. declared.
Bang Ui-geol (Courtesy of the artist)
By Park Yuna ([email protected])