Contemporary Artists from North Korea
Pier Luigi Cecioni
Luciano Benetton, Pier Luigi Cecioni, Eugenio Cecioni, Yang Byong Su
English, Korean, Italian
Size: 21 x 20 cm
Publisher: Fabrica, Italy
The catalog North Korea: a Unique Country presents the 210 North Korean works created for the Luciano Benetton Collection--Imago Mundi.
A prominent feature is the works’ unusual size: they are all 10 x 12 cm. The reason for this choice is that Luciano Benetton—co-founder, co-owner and iconic figure of the Benetton Group—is aiming to realize, in effect, a world atlas of contemporary art by collecting a large number of works from as many countries as possible. The small size, the same for all countries (as is the approximate number of works for each country) reflects, first of all, a practical need: it would be almost impossible to collect thousands of art works of “normal” size. Moreover, this homogeneity allows a comparison, a more intense dialogue, among the different countries, especially when all the works of one country are inserted in the displays realized by the architect Tobia Scarpa, and then placed one next to the other.
The works for North Korea: a Unique Country have been realized at the Mansudae Art Studio, the Pyongyang art center where the vast majority of the most accomplished North Korean artists work. The techniques represented are virtually all those employed in the country: ink, oil, acrylic, woodcut, embroidery, drawing, tempera, calligraphy, watercolor and jewel painting. This last consists in using precious or semiprecious stones that are crushed and glued on a board or on a canvas, without the use of additional color.
The ages of the artists, all highly if not superbly skilled, range from 24 to 74.
These works themselves provide a panorama of the artistic production of the country while, of course, taking into account the aforementioned limitation that excludes those works for which size is an intrinsic element such as the characteristic very large and almost epic works, or many calligraphy works in which the gesture constitutes an essential part, or the propaganda posters whose text, if reduced to fit the size of the works, would become almost illegible.
The commentaries included in the catalog, which has been curated by Pier Luigi Cecioni, Western representative of the Mansudae Art Studio, are by Luciano Benetton, Pier Luigi Cecioni, Eugenio Cecioni and Yang Byong Su of the Mansudae Art Studio.
The catalog’s cover has been rendered from a poster, selected to convey a different image from the conventional ones of a country that is truly unique, perhaps the most unique of all.