The Beautiful Future

North Korean Artwork Commissioned by Koryo Studio.

 

The Beautiful Future is a unique collaboration between Nick Bonner of Koryo Studio, Dominic Johnson-Hill of Plastered 8. Together with a group of North Korean artists living in North Korea’s capital Pyongyang.

Nick and Dominic’s inspiration for The Beautiful Future was to portray modern Chinese icons in a funky socialist future. Teaming up with the best socialist artists in the world resulted in the creation of this very unique series of paintings.

It was one of the first times Western designers had collaborated with artists from North Korea and the results were as intriguing as they were visually spectacular.

“The Beautiful Future sees icons of Beijing’s skyline reimagined by a team of propaganda painters in Pyongyang. An ongoing process since the pre-Olympic frenzy, the paintings are the result of Bonner and Hill sending detailed sketches to the North Korean artists, along with renderings of the buildings in question – as neither CCTV nor the Olympic venues existed at that stage. The artists were then left to fill in the blanks as they wished. The results give an intriguing insight into their vision of what Chinese modernity might be like in a land they will never know.”

Oliver Wainwright, The Guardian (2013)

Propaganda Artists From North Korea Paint a Rose-Tinted China

north korean art

Birds Nest, Home of the People
Birds Nest, Home of the People print on 240 gsm white matt Hahnemühle paper

Disco Night to Enhance the Day

Disco Night to Enhance the Day
Disco Night to Enhance the Day print on 240 gsm white matt Hahnemühle paper

Glorious CCTV Tower

Glorious CCTV Tower
Glorious CCTV Tower print on 240 gsm white matt Hahnemühle paper

KTV Gives Us a Voice

KTV Gives Us a Voice
KTV Gives Us a Voice print on 240 gsm white matt Hahnemühle paper

CCTV TOWER WITH BOUNTIFUL HARVEST

CCTV Tower with Bountiful Harvest
Print on 240 gsm white matt Hahnemühle paper

City Migration

City Migration
City Migration print on 240 gsm white matt Hahnemühle paper

Office Culture for Prosperity

Office Culture for Prosperity
Office Culture for Prosperity print on 240 gsm white matt Hahnemühle paper

north korean art

Water Cube for Clean Air & Healthy Life
Print on 240 gsm white matt Hahnemühle paper

BEAUTIFUL FUTURE: THE STORY

Who?

Nick Bonner and Dominic Johnson-Hill have lived in Beijing since 1993.  Nick is a North Korean specialist commissioning and curating North Korean art, as well as the director of Koryo Tours. Dominic has been producing graphic artwork with Chinese artists for his streetwear brand Plastered 8 since 2006.

Why?

Nick and Dominic had the unprecedented opportunity to work with North Korean artists who specialised in detailed artwork. Normally they limited their projects to interior or graphic design. However, this commission allows the artists to capture rituals of life in contemporary China set on a stage of socialism. Of an age both lost and imagined…

How?

Photographs depicting Beijing and its contemporary architecture were given to the artists who were then asked to create their perceived vision of a futuristic Beijing. Both in terms of buildings and everyday life. It’s important to remember that these artists are completely cut off from the outside world. So, they derive their visions purely from the little information we gave them. Or, what they had seen in the North Korean media, and their own imaginations.

What?

The finished artworks were, quite literally, a perceived vision of China through the eyes of a North Korean artist. Unwittingly, in many ways, they depict China’s future, or what is now known as ‘The China Dream’.

When?

We started the project in 2007. The commission was before many of the featured architectural elements were completed, and the North Korean artists would use digital renderings as reference. The artists hand-painted each piece in Pyongyang. As there was no internet, telephone, or mail communication with the artists, the project took over two years to complete. Nick traveled to Pyongyang several times to record the progress.

Shown below are the North Korean artist’s progress from their pencil drawing to the finished art pieces.

Read More: Q&A with Nick Bonner and Dominic Johnson-Hill
CCTV TOWER WITH BOUNTIFUL HARVEST
beautiful future karaoke1beautiful future karaoke2

The Following Prints Are Available For Purchase:

1/200
Limited edition prints 60 X 42cm (66 x 48 with white border) 1500 RMB or 180 EUR
1/500
A smaller edition (A3 size with 2cm white border) at 880 RMB or 110 EUR
1/50
Full-size prints (same size as original artwork- please refer to individual art piece + 2cm white border) at 9,400 RMB or 1200 EUR

 

Further Commissioned Works

Nothing to Envy
A unique photographic journey through the socialist architecture and grand visions of DPRK’s capital
Guarding-the-Skies
Iconic roles of females in North Korean society