The tiger, as it exists in the human world, is kaleidoscopic. The figure of the tiger straddles the boundaries between power and desire, imagination and reality. A key figure in Korea’s national origin myth on Dangun, the tiger resides deep in the roots of our tradition, culture, and sentiments across thousands of years. The image of the tiger also served as an emblem of major events and sports teams, representing the national spirit.
In premodern and folk art, the tiger is featured in a variety of ways – a national symbol, a sublime creature with mystic powers, but also at times comical and friendly. This big cat is brave and regal, nimble, rough, and also tough; but it is also thought to be a humane animal of wise, compassionate, jolly, and funny nature. The tiger is also a familiar figure in East Asian culture, serving as a mythological symbol. Despite their unfortunate status as an endangered species of late, the tiger and its symbolic presence lives through history, alive and well in our midst.
Tiger Lives is a special exhibition consisting of cultural relics and paintings of tigers in the Coreana Museum of Art and the Coreana Cosmetics Museum’s collection, presented alongside contemporary videos, paintings, and installations. Taken from video artist Nam June Paik’s eponymous work, the title emphasizes the persistent belief in the tiger’s symbolic presence in its present-progressive tense. From tiger claws – known for their power to ward off ill fate – to tiger embroideries on the military attire, paintings of roaring tigers and their comical renditions in folk art, tigers occupy a wide spectrum of representations to encompass disparate classes and beliefs. The symbolism of the tiger, meanwhile, stimulates new explorations in the minds of contemporary artists, mediating discrete points of history, culture, and myth. We hope that the exhibition would present the visitors with an opportunity to experience the rich oeuvre of tiger symbolisms through traditional representations and contemporary recontextualizations.
Exhibition Title Tiger Lives
Exhibition Period September 7 - December 19, 2020
Exhibition Venue Coreana Museum of Art
Organized by Coreana Museum of Art
Supported by Coreana Cosmetics Co., Ltd.
Cooperated by Coreana Cosmetics Muesum, WWF
Hwang Jongha 황종하
Kim Kichang 김기창
Seo Jung Mook 서정묵
Yoo Sam Gyu 유삼규
Nam June Paik 백남준
Oh Yoon 오 윤
Eunsil Lee 이은실
Young Joo Lee 이영주
Ye Seul HANJU 한주예슬