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A photographer with a bounty on his head

Posted May. 26, 2014 05:15,   


It is from a fairy tale? A pumpkin with polka dots that is bigger than an adult sits decently. A red balloon with water drops makes you feel afloat. The artworks at the exhibition of Yayoi Kusama at Seoul Arts Center will capture your eyes and mind. The artist who has suffered a mental disease since a young child has turned her pain and despair into the art of self-healing. She says, “I don’t think I’m an artist. I just do art to overcome my obstacles that started when I was a child.”

Challenges and suffering produce great artists. One of them was Vincent van Gogh. After experiencing extreme poverty and a mental disease, the Dutch artist painted particularly many portraits. He had no money for a model and sold only one piece of his paintings when he was alive. As he had no money to buy a new canvas, he had to paint over and over again on the same canvas. “Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.” The artist who left immortal paintings with determination said, “Conscience is a man`s compass.”

Andy Warhol, a 20-century iconic pop artist, suggested a new art philosophy. He who served as a bridge to help the public relish art for the upper class did not feel ashamed of seeking money and honor. “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art,” said Warhol, a man who created a new job in the 20 century of combining an artist and a businessman.

The Sewol ferry disaster finally unveiled Ahae, a faceless photographer who gave generous donations to foreign institutions to hold exhibitions. He used his wealth to crown himself a laurel wreath of an artist. Unlike Warhol, he tried to hide himself as a businessman or a photographer. Now, a 500 million won (487,567 U.S. dollars) bounty is offered to find him. It makes me wonder what Warhol would say to the “photographer with a bounty on his head” if he had been alive.

Editorial Writer Koh Mi-seok (mskoh119@donga.com)