The Human Rights Foundation (HRF), in partnership with Artists for Human Rights, will exhibit the work of North Korean defector artist Song Byeok in an exhibit at Gloria Delson Contemporary Arts, located 727 S. Spring St. in downtown Los Angeles. The gallery’s regular hours are available to view at www.gdcagallery.com. The exhibit, “Longing for Freedom,” will be on view from April 7th through April 30th, 2018. It is part of HRF’s Art in Protest program, an ongoing series of international art exhibitions and other events that showcase and popularize artwork that advances freedom and democracy. The opening of “Longing for Freedom” will take place on Saturday, April 7th.
“We are honored to exhibit the work of Song Byeok, an innovative artist whose work plays on the humorless propaganda of the Kim regime” says Holly Baxter, Executive Director of the Art in Protest program. “Once an official state propaganda artist, Song has transformed his insider knowledge into an incisive critique of government repression, infused with absurdity and references to pop culture. He embodies the spirit of creativity and dissent that the Art in Protest program seeks out in artists around the world. Individuals like Song are key to shining a light on global authoritarianism and fostering meaningful change.”
Song Byeok has been called the “Andy Warhol of North Korea” for his colorful and provocative works. He spent seven years painting official propaganda posters for the North Korean government, with images of happy rural laborers and slogans lauding the country’s happiness and prosperity. But Song has also personally experienced the dark reality of life in North Korea—he has suffered famine, been arrested and tortured, and spent six months in a labor camp. Having finally managed to escape, he now uses his art to draw widespread attention to the abuses happening in North Korea. He masterfully leverages humor and allusion to create works that transcends boundaries, activating a universal human drive for freedom.
The Art in Protest program is HRF’s answer to the repression of creativity that authoritarian regimes impose. Dictatorships are built on misinformation meant to confuse and pacify their populations. Art can provide a vehicle for protest that targets this deception at its core, through an emotional immediacy that penetrates deeper than official statements or demonstrations. Recognizing the transformative potential of art, HRF has established the first program to support dissident artists around the world. By giving these individuals a broader platform for their work, we can help them make a lasting impact in the global struggle against authoritarianism.