In 2020, the Daejeon Creative Art Centre presents a series of exhibitions with the unifying theme of human life: ‘Food, Clothing and Shelter.’ A part of this series, Let’s hygge brings together works taking food, specifically noodles and breads, as their key motifs. Flour-based food began to develop significantly in Daejeon in the 1960s and ‘70s, as the supply of wheat flour grew large in the region. Like its name, which literally means big field, Daejeon was self-sufficient in its wheat production, and, additionally, it seems that a great deal of wheat flour was acquired under the table from American military camps that had been stationed nearby since the Korean War. According to The Tales of Daeheungdong (Joong-gu Local Culture Archive, vol.24), “After the war ended, there emerged a number of bakeries in Daeheungdong, and kalgooksu (knife-cut noodles) restaurants around the Daejeon Railway Station. Although kalgooksu was considered a meal for commoners, bakeries symbolized luxury. In this way, both became important elements of the local food culture.” In preparation for the Daeheungdong Network exhibitions, based on this local history, we came to face the spread of the novel Covid-19 virus. Since then social distancing has changed our daily life so greatly that things seem never to be the same again. Parties and social gatherings buzzing with people are no longer a major part of our daily landscapes. Under this circumstance, this exhibition attempts to bring you comfort through the journey into food, leading us every day, slowly but surely, towards contentment, and to consider, in this new context, the once-overlooked preciousness of everyday routine.
For the title of this exhibition, we’ve coined a new word—carb-hygge—from ‘carbohydrate’, the key nutrient in rice, noodles, s, breads, etc., and ‘hygge’, Danish for ‘contentment’. Carbohydrates, simply called sugars, consist of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms, and are the main source of fuel for living beings, as the molecules, once eaten, are easily broken down into smaller sugars to be used as energy for immediate tasks. With ‘hygge,’ we refer to the small but solid contentment that eating carbs gives us. As Danish people express “a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment, as when having conversations over good meals” by the word hygge, we’ve decided to call the satiety and happiness we find in breads and noodles as ‘carb-hygge’.
Let’s hygge is an exhibition about the happiness of our ordinary life, so ordinary that we often forget it. Although they are so common nowadays, noodles and breads in their very abundance prove the continuity of our day-to-day lives. We hope that these three artists’ works will soothe visitors’ thirst for their old routines, and steady us as we await the day when things will once again be put in their proper place.
The displayed works are paintings of the sort one may turn and return to, clicking familiar bookmarks on the computer, when in need of comfort. Um Yoojeong, author of My Drawings of Iceland, draws and paints her surroundings with attention to changing forms, solid rhythms, or things in dissipation. Particularly drawn to the diversity of bread shapes and to the fragility of bread-forms, she had been painting her favourite shapes of breads for three years in 2019, when she had her solo exhibition Baked Shapes. Reviews from visitors to that exhibition are full of warm and happy feelings. Painted in simple forms, her paintings of breads deliver their soft textures, fragrances, and even tastes, bringing satisfaction to viewers.
Na Bin reconstructs meeting places and encounters with people in painting. In an interview, she said, “I wanted to paint trivial things like a hairpin, a wallet, a mobile phone, etc. that were put on a table where I was meeting someone, like a landscape of memories. It feels as if those ordinary moments, however insignificant, are being reborn with my memories.” The soundless tranquillity of her paintings produces warmth in viewers of them. One may feel a variety of emotions arising and disappearing over her canvases, painted carefully in yellows, blues and greens. The viewer may not apprehend the whole story of each painting, but the emotions of their moments are unmistakable. Like a comma in the headlong sentence of busy daily life, looking at her works gives us a moment to catch our breath.
Haru. K’s works are elaborate and highly visual stimulating. Although the paintings borrow much from traditional Korean painting techniques, their motifs and expressions are thoroughly novel and modern. This exhibition displays a selection of works from his famous painting series such as Delicious Landscape and Edited Landscape. Edited Landscape: Washin Jjambbong depicts a human figure climbing the strands of jjambbong noodles raised by chopsticks while waving a five-colour flag, a landscape emerging from a big bowl of mouth-watering jjambbong, and many other funny scenes, resulting in an endless and enthralling fun throughout its visual journey. Delicious Landscape provokes laughter with scenes in which elements of grand landscapes are sandwiched within large baguettes. With fishermen under waterfalls, swimmers enjoying themselves, a couple putting up a tent, and more, every corner of this painting has something to be enjoyed. Exploring the artist’s landscapes, viewers will be astonished by his sense of humour.