Paintings of antique cars hang on the left side of an exhibition hall in South Jakarta, a mix of red, yellow and black vehicles with newspaper clippings pressed onto their bodies.
The artist, Hyun-Ju Kim, said she wanted to capture the essence of time in the lithographic paintings, which each took a month to finish and used 10 colors. “I wanted to show that even though time is fleeing, some things still remain important and give us hope,” she said.
Seventeen artists from Hongik University in Seoul are showcasing their artwork at the Korean Cultural Center at Equity Tower in South Jakarta. The exhibit, which opened on Tuesday and runs for a week, displays 45 pieces of printmaking.
Printmaking involves the creation of original artwork rather than a photographic reproduction of a painting. It began with the invention of the Tripitaka Koreana, an ancient printing method that used more than 80,000 wood blocks to print the complete collection of Buddhist scriptures, laws and treaties. Monks created the blocks with wood from silver magnolias, white birches and cherry trees on Korea’s southern coast. They soaked the ram wood in saltwater for three years and then cut the blocks. Each section was boiled in saltwater, dried carefully and carved.
“Printmaking is not really well known in Indonesia,” said Hyun-Ju. “We wanted to introduce this high-quality artwork to Indonesians and also have them connect to the Korean culture.”
Slowly, a crowd began to gather in the exhibition hall, which will celebrate its one-year anniversary this month. People spread out across the room to examine each piece, leaning forward for a closer look.
Students examined three pieces depicting New York through a camera view of the Statue of Liberty. Another piece showed reflections of bustling streets on skyscrapers. Across from the black-and-white images, another set embraced vibrant colors of green and red. The pieces, called “Island Dreams,” took an abstract approach with splashes of green and hints of brown, resembling blades of grass.
Next to it, a painting of a huge red pepper inside a glass bowl captured attention as onlookers slowed to read its title, “Something Transparent.”
“It’s fresh and different than what other local artists have here,” said art enthusiast Pipi Raditya, who dabbles in photography and painting in her free time. “Everyone has their own style and I like that.”
To celebrate its anniversary, the Korean Cultural Center brought in a K-pop boy band to perform last month and will welcome five Jakarta-based calligraphers next month from China, Japan and Korea. It’s an effort to reach out to the more than 35,000 Koreans in the city, according to Hyun-Ki Kim, director of the center.
“We are looking to promote Korean culture and also accept Indonesian culture,” Hyun-Ki said.
“We want to be able to mix these two cultures and have people from both sides come together and enjoy the artwork.”