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Inside the fantastic world of Marc Chagall

May 02,2018
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“Big Red Bouquet” (1975) a pastel and watercolor on paper, is being displayed in Korea for the first time. [YOON SO-YEON]
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The final section of “Marc Chagall Special Exhibition - Chagall’s Garden” is a collection of the artist’s work centered around the theme of love. [YOON SO-YEON]
Artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985), born in present-day Belarus, left his mark as one of the finest early modernists of his time alongside his contemporaries like Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), with a distinct style and method that didn’t fit into one particular school of art. The M Contemporary art center offers a chance for fans of the artist in Korea to see over 260 works at “Marc Chagall Special Exhibition Chagall’s Garden,” which shows how Chagall pursued his work without sticking to one particular style or medium, including 25 pieces that are being shown in Korea for the first time.

“When we hear the name Chagall, we think of his colors because he’s a painter of vibrant colors and bright lights,” said curator Dolores Duran Ucar. “In this exhibition, we discover the personal universe created by Chagall, a fantastic world where everything is possible, and a world where memories of his youth ignite the sense of color with the forms of avant-garde.”

The exhibition presents works from various times in Chagall’s life, such as his early career in the 1920s, his traumatic escape from Europe during WWII and his later years in the United States. Across four sections of the exhibition - titled “Dreams, Fables and Religion,” “War and Exodus,” “The Path of Poetry” and “Love” - visitors see works depicting different subjects and created with a variety of mediums, but will notice that love remains a consistent theme throughout all of his work.

While Chagall is well known for his colorful oil paintings, this exhibition is a chance to see a vast array of works, such as lithographs, etchings and xylographs, which show how works using fewer colors and simpler forms can be just as genius and impressive as his spectacular paintings on canvas. Chagall’s unique command of color is on display in “The Purple Rooster” (1966-72), while in his lithograph “The Clown,” he takes a simple, but bold approach while remaining playful.

“This exhibition is unique in the sense of both quantity and quality of the works that are presented. It allows a double approach. Art historians can deeply investigate Chagall’s universe, through important artworks and the themes of the paintings. On the other hand, in addition to the scientific mission, we can approach and feel his sensual forms of dreams, colors of love and life,” said Duran Ucar.

Some attractions that shouldn’t be missed include 20 books containing Chagall’s illustrations in a separate section called “Chagall’s Library” and “Chagall’s Atelier” where visitors can get the chance to create their very own prints in a studio that’s been made to look like the one in which Chagall produced his work.

“Chagall painted everyday until the last day of his life, for over 80 years,” said Kang Pil-woong, director of the M Contemporary art center. “We would like the visitors to look at his works and understand his artistic world, but also to take some time to look inside themselves, as if they’re walking through a garden.”

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]