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“Namjooning” Through Museums and Galleries in Seoul

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Taken from: https://www.instagram.com/rkive/

RM, or Kim Namjoon, is known worldwide for being the leader and main rapper of BTS, but among the group’s fandom (Army) it is well known that Namjoon has a great interest in other types of art other than music, such as painting, sculpture and literature. Therefore, since the members of BTS created their personal Instagram accounts in late 2021, @rkive, Namjoon’s account, has stood out for being full of photographs of works of art, since one of the artist’s hobbies is touring museums and galleries wherever he is. Because of this, and other interests of Namjoon, such as reading and nature walks, Army created a specific verb to define the compilation of the idol’s favorite activities: “namjooning”; and in this blog we want to share with you four of the museums and galleries in Seoul that RM has visited and recorded through his Instagram account in his “namjooning” days, but that perhaps are not so well known by the international public.

Seoul Museum of Craft Art (SeMoCA)

It was opened in 2021 by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) as Korea’s first public museum specializing in craft art, housing more than 23,000 works. At SeMoCA, visitors can learn about crafts from different eras and fields of South Korea, from the Goryeo Dynasty to nowadays. In addition, the venue aims to be a space for research on the ancient knowledge, records and materials of Korean handicrafts. The SeMoCA encompasses seven buildings, located on the site of the former Pungmoon Girls’ High School, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. The museum is open to the public free of charge, and has facilities such as: braille maps at all entrances for people with visual impairment, an interactive tactile exhibition area, and an audio commentary service, as well as having wheelchair-accessible facilities, so that anyone can enjoy the exhibits regardless of their condition.

Among the permanent exhibitions at the SeMoCA, it is important to highlight “Artisans – Making the Better World”, which explores the stories of artisans of the Joseon Dynasty and the Japanese colonial period, and “Heritage of Seoul’s Traditional Crafts”, dedicated to the two thousand years of history of craftsmanship in the city of Seoul. While, among the photographs shared by Namjoon on Instagram about the site in July 2022, it is important to highlight the photograph to “A Time of Sincerity” by Dahye Jeong, winning piece of the LOEWE FOUNDATION Craft Prize 2022, which was made with a Korean hat-making technique more than 500 years old.

A Time of Sincerity – Dahye Jeong

Taken from: https://www.instagram.com/rkive/

Kukje Gallery

Since its establishment in 1982, Kukje Gallery, located in the iconic K1 building in the heart of Samcheong-dong, has been a vital cultural center in Seoul, presenting important works by renowned modern and contemporary artists. Major solo exhibitions have showcased the work of internationally renowned artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Anish Kapoor, Robert Mapplethorpe, to name but a few. While at the same time, Kukje Gallery has been committed to educating collectors and institutions around the world about the history of Korean art, promoting and supporting the work of some of the country’s most important artists, such as Yoo Youngkuk, Wook-kyung Choi, Kim Yong-Ik, Koo Bohnchang, Ahn Kyuchul, among others. In addition, the Gallery has introduced these fundamental artists for Korea to the world art scene through its participation in international art fairs, such as “Art Basel”, in which it has participated since 1998.

Among the artists mentioned, it is worth noting that Yoo Youngkuk (1916-2002), a pioneer of Korean abstract art, is one of Namjoon’s favorite artists, due to his special way of depicting the Korean landscape and nature through the use of bright colors and bold shapes. It is therefore understandable why Kukje Gallery, home to many of Youngkuk’s works, is one of Namjoon’s most photographed locations for @rkive.

Kim Namjoon next to a Yoo Youngkuk artwork

Taken from: https://www.instagram.com/rkive/

Horim Museum Sinsa

Since its opening in 2009, the Horim Museum of the Sungbo Cultural Foundation located in Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, in Seoul, has become a cultural space of great importance to the city. The museum has exhibition halls from the second to the fourth floor of the building, a souvenir store and a resting place. In addition, its architecture is inspired by pottery, which has made it part of the region’s artistic heritage. As a private museum representative of Korea’s traditional arts, the Horim Museum aims to exhibit the best works in terms of scale and level, while remaining committed to functioning as an open cultural space in the center of the city. Its vision is based on proactively sharing the value of Korean cultural heritage while engaging in exchanges with the world’s leading museums and art galleries.

The Museum also pursues a forward-looking perspective based on tradition and the creation of renewed values. Therefore, among its current exhibitions, “Memories” is one of the most outstanding, as it is based on exhibiting 40 years of history to celebrate the Museum’s 40th anniversary, and thus teach that memories are the connecting language that allows the past and the present to exist on the same timeline. As could be seen in the photographs shared by Namjoon on his Instagram, the exhibition brings together different pieces that recall memories through traditions passed down through generations, which live beyond the passing moment and return in the form of history.

Kim Namjoon at Horim Museum Sinsa

Taken from: https://www.instagram.com/rkive/

PKM Gallery

Since its opening in 2001, PKM Gallery, equipped with a boutique-like gallery space, has consistently presented exhibitions of Korean and international artists whose works reflect trends in contemporary art. In addition, as an incubator for emerging artists, the Gallery has organized exhibitions to foster the organic growth of outstanding artists of the next generation. In this regard, PKM Gallery has played a pivotal role in promoting Korean contemporary art within the global art market, also taking part in major international fairs such as Art Basel, FIAC, Armory Show and Expo Chicago.

In addition to its headquarters in Seoul, PKM Gallery has a branch in Beijing, China, and another one in Cheongdam-dong, South Korea. But Namjoon has shown on his Instagram that the Seoul branch is one of the places he visits most often, as he has shared photographs of artists’ works on display at the gallery on different occasions. Among them, Namjoon has photographed the works of Jiwon Kim (1961), a contemporary Korean artist recognized for his paintings of ordinary objects and landscapes, taken directly from his surroundings, but depicted with a very particular technique. As well as works by Yun Hyong-Keun (1928 – 2007), another of Namjoon’s favorite artists, whose style was based on broad lines from top to bottom, to which the artist added oil colors layer after layer, until the outer edges of the canvas became a deep, almost black color.

Artwork by Jiwon Kim

Taken from: https://www.instagram.com/rkive/

Artwork by Yun Hyong-Keun

Taken from: https://www.instagram.com/rkive/

Undoubtedly, @rkive is an Instagram account that beyond showing a more personal side about the BTS leader, has helped to make visible the art of different exponents, in addition to creating curiosity among Armys to explore a little more of Kim Namjoon’s favorite artworks and the places he visits in his “namjooning” days. Therefore, for people who enjoy art and are BTS fans, it is recommended to take a look at @rkive before visiting Seoul, in order to put together a tour of the museums and galleries worth exploring in the city.

Written by: Luisa Quintero

Reviewed by: Andrea Ramírez

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