The recent painting of Geun-hye Park, a candidate of the 2012 Presidential Election, giving birth to her own father Chung-hee Park, Former President of Korea from 1963 to 1979, was offensive enough to put many Koreans into sheer shock. I was appalled by the painting myself, and incensed over the fact that the painting was actually put on display for people to see and contemplate on. I would rather call it a piece of despicable revulsion that clearly reflects the painter’s distorted view of not only the candidate but also the idea of birth, women, and art overall.
Sung-dam Hong, who calls himself the “artist of the public,” defends himself by claiming that he wanted to create a satirical image to detract people from blindly believing in the deification of Geun-hye Park. He also mentions that it is of his free will and liberty and that there should be no hindrance to perform such rights. His stance, however, does not derive from logical reasoning. His work is something way different from a satire, and how could he claim rights for liberty when he tramples on someone else’s interests in not being attacked? How could he speak of his own liberty while inflicting pain on others? We are privileged to a natural right such as liberty, but we should exercise that right only to an extent that does not harm others. His work concerning Geun-hye Park, along with his other detestable works, violates this agreement as a member of society. What he calls art is merely dabbing on the canvas his immature behavior mixed with his scornful loathing for his targets.
What worries me is that this could only be a small tip of the iceberg. Something like this could lead to a cascading, disastrous evil that spoils the purity of art itself. Hong could have been successful in terms of coaxing some people subconsciously into accepting his work as a painting when it is actually is not. Similarly, the danger of creating such work of art is that it has the power to embed in one’s mind a false hypocrisy. Seriously, matters grow worse if the concept of art is rotten to begin with.
On the other hand, many artists view the creative arts as a way of expressing the ungraspable thoughts and feelings of the heart. It is a process of making what is intangible somewhat concrete, or at least observable. It is a way of symbolizing the world you know that cannot be described in words. It is a rearrangement of objects to create an atmosphere. It is a way of groping about for possible solutions to questions by creating a window to your soul. They are very dear to sight, touch, smell, and the rest of the five senses and thus, brings the soul closer to reality. Painting, for example, is the overflow of heartfelt rushes to the tip of a brushstroke. The touch is very careful, yet strong and free; this is where liberty can be experienced! It is not trapped within the limits of the canvas. Musicians grind out soft to loud melodies. How they are expressed may not be agreeable, but they are still beautiful! Indeed, many artists are devoted to their work for the love of pure art itself! If there is, however, a foul purpose in your mind, art is no longer art in itself; it becomes a tool.
The arts should be a reflection of the soul; it has the capacity to fill up the unknown and indiscernible holes of reality. I cannot say enough how disheartening and frustrating it is to see some people exploit and degrade the beauty of art for their own worldly malicious purposes.