press release

The Kunsthal presents a world premiere with a previously unexhibited collection of North Korean art. The exhibition comprises over 150 gouaches and 135 paintings. All the pieces were commissioned by the state and were originally intended solely for domestic use. This sizeable collection comes from Pyongyang, the only city in North Korea open to foreigners.

The gouaches and paintings were originally intended for public buildings and hotels. In spite of the fact that twenty different artists produced the work, their approach hardly differs and the style is almost interchangeable. The socialist imagery exudes a powerful sense of dynamism. Many of the artists have adopted a lowered perspective, creating the sense that one is looking up to the people portrayed The works were painted within the specific historical and socio-political context of the ‘juche’ ideology. Totally dominated by its leader Kim Jong-il, the state refuses any interference from the outside world, which is clearly demonstrated in the works on show. The collection has an undeniably political tint and gives off a an excess of ideological iconography. Topics such as economic reform, dedication and sacrifice, the ‘juche’, and the ‘Army First’ doctrine launched in 2003 have the upper hand. Pressetext

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The world according to Kim Jong-il - Art from North Korea