Seoul's photograph exhibitions are worth 1,000 words and then some
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Cartier-Bresson and Matisse had a special relationship in that Matisse even drew the cover for "The Decisive Moment."
The photographer traveled all over the world — Beijing, New Orleans, Seville and Barcelona to name a few — to record stories that no one else could, in his own "decisive moment."
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(예시) 가장 빠른 뉴스가 있고 다양한 정보, 쌍방향 소통이 숨쉬는 다음뉴스를 만나보세요. 다음뉴스는 국내외 주요이슈와 실시간 속보, 문화생활 및 다양한 분야의 뉴스를 입체적으로 전달하고 있습니다.
Scattered across Seoul are three photograph exhibitions, featuring Henri Cartier-Bresson, TEYÉ and Arno Fischer. While each artist comes from a very different background, they are all storytellers who have proven that even the simplest or most straightforward black-and-white photograph can carry historical value.
The Korea JoongAng Daily visited each exhibition to discover the background and significance behind each photographer’s work.
Henri Cartier-Bresson The Hangaram Art Museum, inside the Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul, holds the retrospective of French photographer Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004).
Considered a pioneer of photojournalism, the artist published a compilation of his photographs in the book “The Decisive Moment” in 1952 — which was later dubbed “the bible for photographers” and named one of the most influential photobooks of the 20th century.
In the exhibition of the same name, which celebrates the 70th anniversary of the book’s publication, are 75 photographs taken by Cartier-Bresson including the original prints of the photos in the pages of “The Decisive Moment.” The photographs were provided by the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Like its title, Cartier-Bresson believed everything to have its own “decisive moment” and that photography was intended to capture it as it is, which is why his photographs are candid and appear natural.
Cartier-Bresson also took portrait photographs of famous artists like Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Henri Matisse (1869-1954).
Magnum Photos, an international photographic cooperative of which Cartier-Bresson was a founding member, explained that the photographer “had a talent for making people forget he was there” while he took pictures of famed icons.
“When I used to go and see Matisse, I’d sit in a corner. I didn’t move, we didn’t talk. It was as if we didn’t exist,” Cartier-Bresson was quoted as saying by Magnum Photos.
Cartier-Bresson and Matisse had a special relationship in that Matisse even drew the cover for “The Decisive Moment.”
The photographer traveled all over the world — Beijing, New Orleans, Seville and Barcelona to name a few — to record stories that no one else could, in his own “decisive moment.”
Photographs like “The Forbidden City, Beijing, China” (1948) seem strangely familiar, showing a man wearing a face mask in a foggy backdrop of Chinese buildings, making one wonder if fine dust particles were just as big of a problem back then as they are now.
A past interview of Cartier-Bresson, his treasured Leica cameras and letters he wrote to other artists and publishers are all archived in the exhibition as well.
“The Decisive Moment” continues until Oct. 2. The Hangaram Art Museum is open every day except Mondays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are 18,000 won ($14) for adults and can be bought via Naver or Interpark.
TEYÉ Located in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, is a world-famous German camera store called Leica. Known for manufacturing cameras, optical lenses, photographic lenses, binoculars, rifle scopes and microscopes, the store holds frequent exhibitions of artists that use their camera.
The Leica store is currently presenting an exhibition of TEYÉ, or Taejay Lee, a 37-year-old Korean photographer based in Spain. In his series of photographs at “My World(s),” TEYÉ captures the traditional culture of the Galicia region in Spain from the perspective of a 21st century Eurasian nomad. As a Galicia resident himself, TEYÉ strived to encapsulate the tradition of rapa das bestas.
Originating from the Celtic era, rapa das bestas is the practice of herding horses in the summer in order to cut their mane and tail, sanitize them, deworm them, and mark their identity.
“The traditional culture of Galicia and the untamed wild horses reflect me. I couldn’t figure out how my perception of this culture projects into traditional culture and the individual wild horses or herd. In my youth, I couldn’t blend what I felt into a different culture. Neither did I assimilate in Korea. Life of a diaspora, there is no sense of homogeneity regarding anywhere, [and it] makes me feel like an invisible man,” TEYÉ was quoted as saying by Leica Store.
Each photograph depicts a detailed scene from the Galicia region. The specific depiction of the native horses and the particular style of print goes to show how TEYÉ precisely shows the nature of the rapa das bestas tradition.
TEYÉ uses a photographic process known as platinotype. Platinotype is a technique that provides the greatest tonal range, a wide range of shades, and exceptional preservation. Each platinum print is associated with its own unique set of borders. The borders are painted using meok, or traditional East Asian black ink.
“My World(s)” is set to run until Aug. 16. Paintings of TEYÉ’s work can be bought at the exhibition. The Leica store is open every day from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free.
Arno Fischer This German photographer (1927-2011) is recognized for encapsulating important moments in German history, especially the aftermath of World War II in the 1950s to the fall of the Berlin Wall in the late 1980s.
Over 180 photos that span across Fischer’s entire life as a photographer are on view at the Sungkok Art Museum in Jongno District, central Seoul. Like Cartier-Bresson, Fischer’s photographs seem to have been captured in the moment and deviate from anything artificial, like flashes or edits.
“Arno Fischer: A Photographer in East Berlin” was hosted by Germany’s Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations and curated by 70-year-old art historian Matthias Flügge, who was a close friend of Fischer.
Flügge described Fischer’s works as having a “sense of humor [tinged] with wisdom, and every once in a while we catch a glimpse of it in his pictures,” also saying “they capture the moment, but they also evoke the transience of life.”
Because Fischer’s photographs mainly documented the life of East Germany, or the German Democratic Republic from 1949 to 1990, they are regarded as having historical value for capturing the social, cultural and political aspects of Germany during that time.
Fischer was active as a fashion photographer for Sibylle as well, which was a women’s fashion magazine in the German Democratic Republic.
“Arno Fischer: A Photographer in East Berlin” ends Aug. 21. The Sungkok Art Museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are 5,000 won for adults.
BY SHIN MIN-HEE, NIKITA PATEL [email@example.com]
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