Korean masterpieces on display in Corfu

Dedicated exclusively to displaying antiquities from the Far East and India, and with 30,000 visitors – mostly tourists – annually, the Museum of Asian Art on the Ionian Island of Corfu is the only one of its kind in Greece. The museum is located in the Saints Michael and George Mansion, a beautiful edifice located in the heart of the town of Corfu, and a monument in its own right. What’s more, everything seems to be working like clockwork in this wonderful 19th century building, The inauguration earlier this month of its maiden temporary exhibition, «Korea Through Its Monuments,» was perfectly organized, yet not one representative from the Greek Ministry of Culture attended the event, even though the exhibition is a joint project of the ministry’s Museums Directorate, the Korea Foundation and the Korea University Museum. The inauguration was attended by Korea Foundation Director Yim Sung-joon, Korea University Museum Director Choe Kwang-shik and Korean Ambassador to Greece Young-han Bae. The museum also hosts a sizable permanent collection of treasures from China, India and Japan, though this show is the first featuring prominent Korean painters. The works are invaluable. Dating from the 16th to the 18th century, they reveal the wealth of Korean culture. Composed of 26 works, the exhibition is wonderfully set up, with lighting designed to bring out the colors and textures of the exhibits and music to set the aesthetic tone. Landscapes are dominant in this exhibition of Korean art, in which, in contrast with Western anthropocentric trends, it is nature that is exalted and depicted in awesome detail. Also among the items on display are diaries, cylinders depicting famous landscapes, fans and screens, poems and epigraphs. The ornate fans, which are displayed as works of art, but which traditionally were also used as weapons, attracted the most interest from visitors at the opening.

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