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, and 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.

Glorious CCTV Tower

Propaganda artists from North Korea paint a rose-tinted China

“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

STORY

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.

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

Simple sketches and 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. What should be remembered is that these artists are completely cut off from the outside world so their vision derived purely from the little information we gave them, or what they had seen in the North Korea media, and their own imaginations.

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 know as ‘The China Dream’.

The project started 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). Each artwork was hand painted in Pyongyang. As there was no Internet, telephone, or mail communication with the artists the project took over two years to complete. Nick travelled to Pyongyang several times to record the progress.

CCTV TOWER WITH BOUNTIFUL HARVEST
beautiful future swimming pool 2beautiful future swimming pool
beautiful future Nestlebeautiful future nestle1
beautiful future karaoke1beautiful future karaoke2

Selected Artworks

'BIRDS NEST, HOME OF THE PEOPLE' 73.5 x 103 Gouache on paper

Birds Nest, Home of the People
Year: 2013
Size: 73.5 x 103 cm
Gouache on paper

Disco Night to Enhance the Day

Disco Night to Enhance the Day
Year: 2013
Size: 73.5 x 103cm
Gouache on paper

Glorious CCTV Tower

Glorious CCTV Tower
Year: 2013
Size: 84 x 117.5 cm
Gouache on paper

KTV Gives Us a Voice

KTV Gives Us a Voice
Year: 2013
Size: 73.5 x 103cm
Gouache on paper

Office Culture for Prosperity

Office Culture for Prosperity
Year: 2013
Size: 73.5 x 103 cm
Gouache on paper

Water Cube for Clean Air Healthy Life

Water Cube for Clean Air & Healthy Life
Year: 2013
Size: 73.5 x 103 cm
Gouache on paper

CCTV TOWER WITH BOUNTIFUL HARVEST

CCTV Tower with Bountiful Harvest
Year: 2013
Size: 117.5 x 85 cm
Gouache on paper

City Migration

City Migration
Year: 2013
Size: 103 x 73.5 cm
Goucahe on paper

Artworks featured in Commissions are available for sale. Please inquire with us about availability.

Further Commissioned Works

Heroines and Villains 80 x
Heroines and Villains
Unique comic book linocut experiment, Heroes and Villains
Read more.
Reflection of a Rocket
The Future is Bright
Linocuts depicting man's exploration of outer space and ocean floor
Read more.
#85. CHON YONG SIK, 58, Bookshop Manager, Majon Guesthouse Resort
Photography: Matjaž Tančič
A series of more than 100 3D portraits of local North Koreans by this award winning photographer
Read more.