North Korean Embassy Mounts Exhibit

Ealing, London -- An exhibition of paintings in London gives an new insight into the work of artists in, almost certainly, the world's most secretive states. Indeed, the contemporary art of North Korea is almost entirely unfamiliar to the rest of the world.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network can expect long lines to get a glimpse of the new North Korean art installation.

The exhibition is taking place thru tomorrow in the country's embassy in London, pictured here, where the public will be invited onto the communist country's secretive environment for the first time.

Number 73 Gunnersbury Avenue in Ealing is the location of this new exhibition. It is about as far from the 38th parallel as you can get.

The leafy London suburb lies approximately 10 miles north of the South Korean Embassy. This area was once popular among British artists and entertainers.

The house was built as a substantial family home, but now houses the UK embassy of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The embassy has now been transformed into an art gallery, exhibiting the work of four artists who have recently painted their impressions of London.

Unprecedented Action

This is the first gesture of its kind by the country; allowing the public access to its embassy and its artists is unprecedented.

The works on display include images of the recent installation piece 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at the Tower of London; and a portrait of two young women by the River Thames.

As well as the works recently painted in London, there are further pieces selected from the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang by the exhibition's curator David Heather, who has been trying to persuade the North Korean authorities to mount such a show for over ten years.

"The practicalities have been complex but the intention has been simple all along," Heather told the BBC.

"We're bringing two cultures together, exchanging comments and criticism. It builds a bridge, which can surely only be of benefit."

The artists on display at the embassy are: Jon Pyong Jin, Kim Hun, Ho Jae Song, and Hong Song Il.

All are male and in their 40s, who have been allowed to travel to British capital to see various collections which they were previously unable to see -- such as the Tate, the V&A, and the Rembrandt exhibition at the National Gallery.

Three of the artists have been awarded the North Korean honor of Merited Artist.

Heather continued by saying he would be delighted to "see queues that stretched from the front door of the embassy half-way to Acton Town station" so visitors could see a cross-section of North Korean contemporary art.

To anyone with a knowledge of North Korean politics and its relationship with the west, allowing entrance alone will count as a notable development.

"What I'm planning is that we now take a group of artists from Britain to the DPRK.

"I'm hoping that artists who think they have something to offer will contact me: I would love to see British artists going to Pyongyang and painting what they find there and exhibiting there too."

Heather continued in his conversation with the BBC, "The exhibition in London is only for four days but it may lead to something more lasting. If nothing else it's a chance to come and stand on North Korean territory in London.

"I'm sure some people will think that's an adventure in itself - but I hope they enjoy the art too."

DPRK fine art exhibition 4-7 November, 73 Gunnersbury Avenue, Ealing, London

Today's homepage Featured Art Video offers a tour of the North Korean Embassy in London.