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Details of presidential office art holdings to be released this year, exhibition under discussion

Visitors look around the main building of Cheong Wa Dae on May 26. A painting of the Korean Peninsula hangs on the wall. (Yonhap)

The government reviews the artworks stored and exhibited at Cheong Wa Dae, with the aim of publishing an art catalog and showcasing the artworks that have been collected since the establishment of the Republic of Korea in 1948.

“We sort the works of art collected at Cheong Wa Dae. The results will be published as an art catalog, which is expected to come out this year,” an official from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism told the Korea Herald.

Whether an art exhibition organized by the presidential office will be held is under discussion, according to the ministry.

Ever since Cheong Wa Dae, also known as the Blue House, was opened to the public at the inauguration of Yoon Suk-yeol’s government, the art collection inside Cheong Wa Dae’s buildings has sparked interest. ‘interest. It is estimated that the collection consists of around 600 pieces.

Reporters watch Huh Dal-jae’s “White Plum Blossom” on May 25 in Cheong Wa Dae. (Yonhap)

A rumor surfaced in April that new first lady Kim Keon-hee, who has a career in art conservation, would lead such an exhibition. However, the presidential transition team denied the rumour, saying “this is something that should only be dealt with after the inauguration.”

Kim has curated several exhibitions as head of Covana Contents, an art exhibition company, including the Mark Rothko, Le Corbusier and Alberto Giacometti exhibitions.

Little is known about the art of Cheong Wa Dae, except that masterpieces by renowned artists such as Paik Nam-june and Lim Ok-sang are part of the collection. A relatively well-known piece to the public is “Port of Tongyeong,” a large, brightly colored painting by Jeon Hyuk-lim. The work, commissioned by the late President Roh Moo-hyun in 2006, was put into storage after Roh’s successor, President Lee Myung-bak, took office. In 2018, under the Moon Jae-in administration, the painting was taken out of storage to hang again in the Blue House.

Journalists visit a hall in Cheong Wa Dae on May 25 where Jeon Hyuk-lim’s ‘Port of Tongyeong’ is on display. (Yonhap)

The government used to buy works presented for the “National Art Exhibition of Korea”, a prestigious art competition held from 1949 to 1981. Presidents attended the ceremony of opening of the art competition and the Blue House and other government organizations purchased works from the competition.

The Moon administration held an art exhibition at the presidential office titled “Together: Cheong Wa Dae’s Art Collection Open to the People” from May 9 to July 29, 2018. The exhibition included works collected from 1966 to 2006 and was held at Cheong Wa Dae Sarangchae, a multipurpose exhibition hall that displays materials to promote the history of the Korean government.

By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)