Busan Museum of Art (BMA)

When I think of Asian art, regardless of the country of origin, I almost always think of traditional art (i.e. centuries old) as opposed to contemporary art. It's not that I didn't think contemporary artists existed in these places — of course they do — it's just that I never really thought about it.

Yesterday I visited the Busan Museum of Art, which despite its vague name is effectively the Busan Museum of Modern Art. The older art on display wasn't that old, certainly not by Asian standards, and most of the exhibits were contemporary, or at most a few decades old.

There were installations, video art, photography, and of course paintings, sketches and although I can't remember any specifically, I'm sure there was sculpture there as well. But don't quote me on that last one. The museum, which is closed on Monday, is free for the permanent galleries.

What I enjoyed the most was perhaps the photography of Choi Min-Sik. He is not the famous Korean actor of Oldboy fame who shares the same name and spelling. This Choi Min-Sik was born in 1928 on the Hwanghae coast, which today is North Korea. Today I'm pretty sure he lives in Busan, and despite being more than 80 years old apparently he still brings his camera with him wherever he goes. According to the BMA, he is Korea's most prominent realist photographer.

His photographs explore life in Korea. From what I saw, not the hardships or political commentary, but just life as it is lived by most of his countrymen, at least in the South: eating fish, talking on the telephone, walking the dog, that sort of thing.