Reporting From Seoul: The 2018 Sulwha Cultural Exhibition

Beauty

November 21, 2018 | BY Samantha Lim

Journalists from the world over were flown into Seoul to witness the 12th Sulwha Cultural Exhibition (October 16-December 14, 2018), an annual effort by Sulwhasoo to bring younger generations closer to Korean tradition.

Sulwhasoo, A Spokesperson For Korean Arts & Culture

One of some 30 cosmetic companies under the AmorePacific Corporation umbrella, Sulwhasoo goes beyond stereotypical imaginings of 'shallow' beauty brands. A bulwark against the dilution of Korean traditions, the company, which likens the production of quality skincare to a fine craft, has revolved around Eastern philosophies and aesthetics since day one.

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A far cry from the Westernised beauty standards that perpetrate the media, Sulwhasoo's slogan "Beauty from Your Culture" instills a sense of pride in Asian women.

Korean Culture In A Contemporary Context

Using the power of art to bridge the gap between ancient traditions and youth, Sulwhasoo rolled out the first Sulwha Cultural Exhibition in 2006. The company puts careful consideration into choosing a theme for each exhibition to ensure successful calibration. 

For the curious, here's a chronological recap of Sulwha Cultural Exhibition themes:

 

  • 2006: Beautiful Colours of Korea
  • 2007: Beautiful Patterns of Korea
  • 2009: White Beauty
  • 2010: Longing For Encounter
  • 2011: The Garden of Imaginative Tales
  • 2012: Onggi: Respiring Earth
  • 2013: The Power of Arrows Across Eras
  • 2014: SKIN=NIKS
  • 2015: Once Upon A Time: Tale of Crepe Myrtle
  • 2016: The Two Love Stars, The Altair and Vega
  • 2017: Once Upon A Time - The Woodcutter and A Fairy
  • 2018: Fortune Land - Gold Leaf

Gold leaf gilding — the traditional technique of stamping gold characters or patterns upon textiles — is being resuscitated at the 12th Sulwha Cultural Exhibition. While artisans of the past used gold leaf solely for embellishing royal court hanboks, Sulwhasoo approached artists of varying disciplines, encouraging them dig a little deeper while reflecting on gold's ravishing beauty.

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A Voguish Venue

Coming to completion in late 2017, AmorePacific Corporation's new HQ was crafted by Sir David Alan Chipperfield; knighted for his sundry contributions to architecture, the British architect is heralded for his clean lines and unpretencious façades. In order to imbue the building with Korean aesthetics, Chipperfield drew inspiration for the building from the Moon Jar, a globular porcelain jar with historical links to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897).

AmorePacific's sprawling lobby sets the stage for an 'amusement park' ambiance at the 2018 Sulwha Cultural Exhibition.

Highlights At FORTUNE LAND - Gold Leaf

Bringing traditional artisans and contemporary artists under one roof, the Sulwha Cultural Exhibition is comprised of 11 exhibitions numbered 0-10. Art springs upon you the moment you enter via the City Gate — simply look down. Artist Proof's Fortune Road, a carpet covered with gold leaf patterns, bestows auspicious blessings upon those who stride upon its path.

Inside, a carnival theme runs throughout the exhibition. Indubitably the centrepiece of the show, Time Is Gold Is Time by Soundance, a golden carousel with Asian motifs, beckons visitors to hop onboard, and was also used as an atypical 'runway' for a fashion show at the opening ceremony. Feeling peckish? Hop to Honeytail Hive by TWOTHREE, which draws parallels between cotton candy's sticky strands and woven gold. Swing by artworks 3 and 4 to break a sweat and a giggle: HappyHappy by COM invites you to toss beanbags into hoops while Beating Gold by FHHH Friends, a punching game with sandbags, lets you unleash any pent-up frustrations. 

Headed by Kim Ki-ho and spanning five generations, gold leaf craft studio Kum Bak Yeon forms the bedrock of the 12th Sulwha Cultural Exhibition. That one may discover the traditional golf-leaf technique, a documentary dubbed Golden Swell is played on loop. Also on display are two royal veils and a ceremonial robe painstakingly embellished by Kim Ki-ho and his kin. 

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Information For Those Visiting Fortune Land

Running through December 14, 2018, the 2018 Sulwha Cultural Exhibition can be viewed via advance reservations. Extrance bands and exhibition maps will be distributed upon registration at the reception counter. All proceeds from the purchase of art commodities will be donated to a support fund for intangible cultural assets. For more information, visit https://www.sulwhasoo.com/int/en/experience/culture.html

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