Sun Mu, Song of Peace, oil on canvas, 100 x 140 cm, 2018

Facing North Korea
Solo exhibition of the North Korean artist Sun Mu

August 19 to September 10, 2023
Curated by Bernhard Draz

Opening hours: Thu-Sun, 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Opening: Friday, August 18, 2023, 7 p.m.

The artist Sun Mu was born in North Korea in 1972 and received academic training there as a traditional communist propaganda painter. The great famine of the 90s drove him to flee via China, Thailand and Laos to South Korea. There he completed further studies in fine arts and has since lived as a freelance artist in Seoul.

To protect his family remaining in North Korea, he hides his face from the media public and adopted the pseudonym Sun Mu, which means without border. The choice of his stage name implies his longing for a unified Korea. On the Korean peninsula after the war only the armistice agreement of 1953 is valid, a peace treaty does not exist until today.

Sun Mu’s works are strongly influenced by his origins and education; in terms of content, everything revolves around peace and the reunification of the two Korean countries. In his paintings, he deals primarily with the different systems of the two states. Thus, he uses the visual language of propaganda painting to develop a subversive aesthetic and often employs the use of irony, humor and symbolism. Many of his images seem like a propaganda variant of Pop or Street Art, but are always linked to a call for resistance and an appeal for freedom and humanity. In North Korea, Sun Mu is considered an enemy of the state, particularly because of his satirical portraits of the Kim trinity (Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un), who are revered like gods, but in South Korea, too, his paintings have often fallen victim to state censorship.

Sun Mu will use his one-month residency at Meinblau Projektraum to produce new works. In combination with a selection of his paintings from 2018 – 2023, this will enable a representative presentation of this artist, who is unique due to his origins and biography.

Special thanks to Art5 e.V., Neolook, Peace Arts Exchange Association and Asia Contemporary Art Platform NON Berlin

The exhibition is supported by the Bezirksamt Pankow von Berlin, Amt für Weiterbildung und Kultur, Fachbereich Kunst und Kultur

Meinblau Projektraum is supported by the State of Berlin, Senate Department for Culture and Europe