Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Date with Renoir in the Heart of Seoul

The 'Promise of Happiness' Renoir exhibition is currently taking place at the Seoul Museum of Art. The SeMa is a light walk away from Deoksu Palace; the rock walls of the palace grounds will lead you towards the museum into a path, away from the city's busy pace.

The path itself is famous on its own, the main subject of an urban legend claiming that lovers who walk the path together will eventually break up. There are many hypotheses of how this legend came to be. The most probable theory : the Seoul Family Court once resided at the end of the alley (it has relocated quite a while back) and couples filing for divorce unavoidably had to walk the path together. Divorce was not a subject to be brought up lightly in conversation so the euphemism "we walked the Deoksugung rock wall path together" was created. Thus, the legend.

However, not many take urban legends seriously. The path is always full of loving couples on a date, families strolling leisurely, friends enjoying the quaint ambiance in old downtown Seoul. (The district that I always call the 'heart of Seoul'.)

An elderly gentleman was painting with a display of his work leaning against the wall on the opposite side of the road.

The museum shows up on the left when the path ends in a small plaza.

Across the museum are bronze sculptures of squashed people. I posed in front of them because if you see them in picture only, you'd absolutely think that the photo was manipulated. I put on a grumpy face and crossed my arms to blend in.

Being a hot day, kids were playing in the plaza fountain. I wished I were reckless enough to join them, but alas, I'm a sensible adult. I regret not taking a video clip of this, the kids were having so much fun.

Photography isn't allowed in the exhibit itself, but there is always a photo-op zone available for the camera happy public in the main foyer. I liked the view from the third floor.

The exhibit was okay. Although many of Renoir's most famous works remained in their regular domain overseas, there were many other works displayed to give you ample insight of Renoir as an artist.

I was surprised to see that English descriptions of each section were omitted for this exhibit (most exhibits at the SeMA usually have full English explanations) but for those who want to take art as art is and not cloud their minds with facts beforehand, it won't pose that much of a problem.

Word of advice : avoid the weekends if possible. Since school is out there were already way too many kids during the week but I was told it was far worse during the weekends. No matter how well behaved a kid may be - when you put a gaggle of them into an art museum, they cannot help but get bored and start whining and creating a ruckus.

The exhibit runs until Sept. 13th, 2009.

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