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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling

Work / Photography

Andrés Gallardo Albajar’s Korean Schooling captures the pastel-hued perfection of South Korean school buildings

“‘Korean Schooling’ is a personal project that sort of happened by accident,” Spanish photographer Andrés Gallardo Albajar tells It’s Nice That of his pastel-hued photography series on South Korean school buildings in Seoul and Busan. “I was invited to South Korea by a local magazine called Pinzle. When preparing my trip I made a big list of architecture to photograph. But one day I got a little lost in Seoul and ended up at a school playground — that’s when it all started.”

“When I found myself in that first playground I got fascinated by elements such as symmetries, pastel hues, the traditional clock or the alphabet. Once I took the first photo I immediately felt the need to search for more schools looking for similar aesthetics to produce a whole series.” The well-kept appearance of the schools in the series gives them a sense of odd, uncanny emptiness. They capture, perhaps, the calm before the pupil-led storm.

“When I entered the first school it was the weekend, so it was empty,” he explains. “Probably that was a good thing, since I’m not sure I’d have walked in at first otherwise. Afterwards I visited many schools, also on school days, so sometimes I had to wait until the kids left the playground to start making photos. My vision was based on pure aesthetic and static elements, so I thought including kids wouldn’t add anything. Besides that, it’s tricky to make photos of children, but anyway, that was not my purpose!”

There’s a dream-like aesthetic to the photographs, which, considering the function of the building might come as an initial surprise to the viewer. “It really looked like someone made a real effort in creating these symmetries,” comments Andrés. “I think this is one of the most captivating elements of the series which is based on elements such as symmetry, hues, clocks, football goals, funny trees and an alphabet I couldn’t understand. That’s where its strength stands. There is very little and basic post processing. That was not the goal.”

“I felt very free when doing it, maybe because it was unplanned and I quickly felt that I’d be very pleased with the outcome,” Andrés says. “This was my first visit to Asia and everything in South Korea and China was fascinating to me. What I loved about Seoul for instance is that you go for a little walk around the city and you find pieces of modern architecture by some of biggest contemporary architects and ancient temples right next to them.”

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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling

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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling

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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling

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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling

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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling

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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling

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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling

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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling

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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling

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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling

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Andrés Gallardo Albajar: Korean Schooling