Wasabi Stories vol.257: “One Picture Could Change Someone’s Life”

coffee breakI would like to introduce a column written by a Tokyo University professor, Kang Sang-jung. In this column, he writes mostly about his two-year experience being an anchorman on a TV program about art. When he was first offered the position, Kang Sang-jung rejected it because the field of art was not his specialty. Even after beginning work on the program, he continued to get very nervous and had a quite difficult time.

In the latter half of the column, Kang Sang-jung describes how paintings have influenced his life, one example being Albrecht Dürer’s self portrait that he saw when he was studying in Germany.

Kang Sang-jung describes his fist instance of seeing the image; “That man (Albrecht Dürer in the picture) was staring at me as if he were an icon of Jesus. It’s as if he was saying ‘I am here. Where are you existing?’ I had been feeling annoyed and shutting myself off from the world, but the painting made me pull myself together. I regained feelings that I could align my life, center myself and again move forward.”


Kang Sang-jung also mentions Mark Rothko‘s “Seagram Murals” seen at the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art in Chiba prefecture, and Pieter Bruegel de Oude‘s “The Triumph of Death”. The former is an abstract painting, but it reminds Kang Sang-jung of the footpath between rice fields that, as a child, he walked along with his mother. And the latter causes him to think of the 3.11 tsunami stricken areas he once visited.

From these experiences, Kang Sang-jung has learned that one picture, such as Dürer’s self portrait, can hold immeasurable influences on someone’s life, and that paintings like Rothko’s have the power to cause someone regain his/her past memories, and, as in Bruegel’s work, show us a darker, sobering reflection of our world.


The NIKKEI 01/16/2012 by Kang_Sang-jung (Tokyo University professor)


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