Korea’s turmoil expressed through art

By Junghee Lee

Eternal Blinking: Contemporary art of Korea is an exhibition with a collection of art works from 18 internationally recognized Korean artists who experienced the 1980s struggles of political, social, and economic chaos. All the art pieces were chosen using certain criteria such as how much of Korea is expressed in the pieces, how it represents Korea, and shows what Korean art is. With this theme, the title was found.

“Eye blinking makes eyes shed tears while removing irritants from the surface of the cornea and conjuctive,” said Eternal Blinking curator, Whui-yeon Jin. “As eye blinking works in humans, Korean artists have developed their own talents through the observations of the others’ formal and philosophical achievements.”

Most of the art works presented in the exhibition is a mixture of technique between traditional Korean painting and modern technology.

WonGi Sul is one of the artists whose paintings are chosen to be displayed in the exhibition. He is currently a professor of painting at the Korea National University of Art in Seoul and is the only visiting artist for the exhibition.

“ I use traditional symbolism in my brush work and paint,” said Sul, “It’s abstracted from real situations so you can see a contemporary kind of look as well.”

Sul’s two artwork (Shadows on a bright day and Early fall) displayed represents the “memory of places, situations, people, or emotions that left me with an enduring impression,” according to Su.

Sul grew up in Korea for 30 years but spent a lot of time in New York. He thinks that he sees Korea’s history through a “bird’s eye.” However, he experienced the transition of Korea from a Third-world country to a developing nation. Artworks like Sul’s Early Fall would not have been able to exhibit in Hawaii without the interests of Hawaii’s art organizations.

In 2003, the University of Hawai’i Art Gallery, the Contemporary Museum, and the Honolulu Academy of Arts organized Crossings 2003: Korea/Hawaii to celebrate the Centennial of Korean Immigrations, according to Lisa Yoshihara, director of the University of Hawai’i art gallery. Eternal Blinking is the continuation of this relationship.

“ Eternal Blinking: Contemporary Art of Korea is a great opportunity for Hawaii,with its strong Korean and Asian communities to learn how Korean artists respond through a range of media and style to this historical experience,” said Yoshihara.

The exhibition is now open to the public from Monday through Friday and Sunday until April 9 at the University of Hawaii art gallery.

Hours of operations

Monday-Friday: 10:30~5:00pm

Sunday: 12:00~5:00pm



Spring Break March 22~26

Good Friday, April 2

Easter, April 4

Admission is Free


Sundays, February 28~March 21 2:00pm~3:00pm

Sundays, March 28 2:00pm~3:00pm (Special tour in Korean Language)