Blood and Tears: Portrayals of Gwangju's Democratic Struggle on view at The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery

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Blood and Tears: Portrayals of Gwangju's Democratic Struggle on view at The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery
Gallery View.

NEW YORK, NY.- Blood and Tears: Portrayals of Gwangju’s Democratic Struggle, on view at Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice , features the work of 19 Minjung artists who were part of a political and populist art movement that was a response to the Gwangju Massacre by South Korean dictator Chun-Doo-huan in May 1980.

Minjung artists used visual arts, especially painting and woodblocks, to call for democratization and Korean reunification. The artworks glorified nature, laborers and peasants and criticized imperialism, Americanization and the authoritarian South Korean government. In the 1980s, many Minjung artists were accused of sympathizing with communism and North Korea and were tortured or imprisoned like other democratization activists.

The exhibition is curated by Soojung Hyun and Thalia Vrachopolous. The gallery’s program is focused on social issues and humanities.

Both of the curators, who live in New York, invite you to come to see the exhibition. Soojung Hyun is from a Gwangju and was a junior at Chonnam at the time.
Forty-two years after the May 18, 1980, Gwangju Uprising in South Korea when thousands of demonstrators were killed and wounded by government troops, the exhibition, Blood and Tears: Portrayals of Gwangju's Democratic Struggle, continues unfolding fading truths and historical distortions. Blood and Tears explores the history of Gwangju, which had a leading role in the fight for democratic freedom and human rights and subsequently became a hub for internationally recognized contemporary art.

The exhibition is curated by Thalia Vrachopoulos, professor of art history at John Jay College and independent curator Soojung Hyun. There will be a symposium on October 12, followed by a closing reception on October 21 featuring a performance by the artist Hong Joo.

Blood and Tears includes work by 19 Minjung artists, and one art collective ranging dating from 1981 to the present. Their media will involve traditional ink painting, woodcuts, and works by contemporary artists inspired by Gwangju Uprising. The latter will feature installations, video, photography, and performances. The socio-political South Korean art movement known as Minjung (People’s) Art emerged soon after May 18, 1980, prompting generations of artists to come.

These artists from Gwangju act as witnesses to historical events of the past forty-two years. Collectively, their different voices express the pain and suffering of that time period and the spirit of the freedom informing it.

The remarkable democratic movement that took place in Gwangju was a protest against military dictatorship, social inequity, and neo-imperialism. Minjung artists based in Gwangju worked enthusiastically to bring their art into the socio-political realm and encouraged people to awaken to the social issues of their identity. They impacted public activities and expanded socio-political awareness not only in Korea, but in other countries throughout Asia. In the U.S. they influenced the Korean immigrant community who struggled with their identity while living as a minority in the United States. Gwangju’s political art with its legacy has now come to New York, one of the great centers of the art world.

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