Communication through Pop Art
-“POP: ART SUPERSTAR KEITH HARING in Gwangju”-
By Kim Han-na, Tribune Reporter
Many people would flash on Andy Warhol when they think about master maestros of pop art. However, the fame of his works is about the same level with that of Keith Haring who was a contemporary of Andy Warhol. As a matter of fact, we can easily meet Keith Haring’s art works through the commodity like a phone, so his works are more familiar than his name. In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of his death, his works are displayed at “POP: ART SUPERSTAR KEITH HARING” from December 8th to February 27th 2011 at the Gwangju Museum of Art. Gwangju has a democratic history and beliefs similar to Keith Haring’s social criticism that is why the United State Embassy in Seoul, which is the sponsor of the exhibition, recommended Gwangju as the third city to hold it after Seoul and Busan.
At the entrance of the Gwangju Museum of Art, huge sculptures of Haring’s typical work attract visitors’ attention, augmenting anticipation about exhibition. In the Evergreen hall, five separate galleries branch off to reflect themes recurring throughout the exhibition. As I was accompanied by a guide, I could appreciate Keith Haring’s works in chronological order, from his beginnings to the last works of his life. Haring’s works are usually untitled because he believed that the audience could become prejudiced by the title of art pieces. Keith Haring expresses universal themes like birth, death, love and gender in his art works. He pulled down the boundary between graffiti and art through a free and rhythmic style. His art work is colorful and simple, so that it could attract public interest and drag them close to art. When he found out that he had AIDS, his works became dark. However, for the rest of his life, he continually worked. One of his latter works, “'Silence = Death, 1989” in Gallery 5, is comprised of pink triangle that symbolize homosexuality. In this manner, he held the message in his work and made an effort to communicate with the public.
Keith Haring wanted to contribute his talent to the world, especially for minorities. He left a message to urging us to solve the problems of social, racial and gender discrimination. Those topics have become global issues nowadays even in Korea. Therefore, this exhibition gave me a chance to consider social minorities such as foreign labor or homosexuals. His works are very cute and easy to understand, but they contain serious messages. I recommend enjoying Keith Haring’s exhibition with a light heart this winter. Then, the audience should take more interest in the underprivileged people around us. That s the real communication Keith Haring wanted to engage in with his public. He has been gone for 20 years, but his works are still beloved all over the world, creating communication between art and society.