THE SUNDAY PICTURE

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The Independent Culture
Here in Britain, Korea is still pretty much a foreign country. It's just two centuries since our governments first made contact, and only in the last few years that Korean art has begun to permeate British consciousness. But suddenly there's a lot of it about. The British Museum is showing "Arts of Korea", an overview of art and archaeology from the Neolithic period to the 19th century, and will open a permanent Korean Gallery in 2000. That's the big picture. For a more particular, contemporary one, head to the Royal College of Art, where Hwang Young-sung has a solo show. The above painting is typical of his recent work: graphic, multicoloured, large-scale, on a grid - and called Family Story (as is every exhibit). Hwang, born in 1941 in Kwangju, south-west Korea, started out painting landscapes, but by the 1980s he had developed his signature style: pictographs that combine traditional oriental symbols (fish for fertility, rabbits for fortune and fecundity, etc) with modern images (footballs, industrial chimneys, thatched houses, tanks of war) to address the complexities of urban life in a very old land. (RCA, SW7, 0171 590 4444; daily 10-6pm, ends Wed; free.) Katherine Griffiths

Slipped your mind didn't it? Another anniversary you've gone and missed. Well, with such high profile events as 'Gateway to the Orient' in London, the bi-centenary of the first contact between Britain and Korea is probably languishing way behind that credit card bill, right at the back of your mind. Just time then to redeem yourself by rushing down to the Hwang Young Sung exhibition (his fourth internationally this year) from which this week's cornucopia of colour 'Big Family' is taken. Hwang not only combines that oft-mined mix of East-West cultural fusion but also his own symbols drawing from the unfathomed pool of Korean history. Formidable propositions then for which an angle of approach may be appreciated. Suggestions have included reading the symbols like Chinese histograms or, because of the confusing multi-directional frames (certainly indicative of his style), viewing them as video monitors. That should get the kids down there then. (symbols like Chinese histograms or, because of the confusing multi-directional frames (certainly indicative of his style), viewing them as video monitors. That should gs dhen.

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