Helena Parada-Kim (b. 1982 in Cologne, Germany) implements stylistic and content-related influences in new cultural contexts resulting in masterful works that are complex in terms of both content and form.
The Dead Man (2016) resembles The Dead Toreador (Homme Mort) by Manet, who was heavily influenced by Spanish painters such as Velásquez when he produced this work. Just as Manet incorporated Spanish clothing and culture into his work, Parada-Kim does the same in The Dead Man with her depiction of her brother dressed in a Hanbok, a traditional piece of Korean clothing, drawing from her Korean roots. Unlike Manet, Parada-Kim's The Dead Man depicts not a dead toreador laying on the ground, but her brother dressed in hanbok belonging to a dead relative.
Wedding Duck (2016) can be seen on its own or in connection with Parada-Kim's The Dead Man. The work depicts a wooden goose (kirŏgi in Korean; a duck is often used instead of a goose). It is Korean tradition that a groom should gift both a male and female wooden goose or duck to his future in-laws to symbolise his lifelong faithfulness, loyalty and harmony.
The Dead Man and Wedding Duck are typical examples of Parada-Kim's recent practice, in which recurring themes include the artist's personal environment, blending of cultural influences, history, and narrative elements.
Other works displayed in the exhibition include a portrait of a Korean grandmother painted on a cardboard box used to ship goods from Korea to Germany, a painting of various magnificent hanboks garments, and portraits of a mourner from a bygone age and a Catholic Korean lady in a hanbok and lace veil.
Gorka Mohamed (b.1978 in Santander, Spain) lives and works in London. Mohammed's works are distinguished by an ambiguity that makes it difficult for the viewer to class them as just one art genre. They contain a mixture of surrealism and the Spanish Baroque creating dark cartoon-like figures.
Intense colours and seemingly unconnected objects come together to create single figures resembling a two-dimensional sculpture, which characterise his paintings.
At the group exhibition MANMADEGOD in 2012, he and three other artists of different origins reinforced the philosophical problems that occur when an artist sees themselves as creators, challenging the principle of God. What are the consequences of this? Do we lose perspective?
Mohamed labels his works as social structures into question and is not afraid to make existing power structures look ridiculous.
Are we humans becoming more and more apathetic? Are we interested in anything anymore or have our heads become so full from the floods of information. Advertising and trivial entertainment bombard us and at the end of the day would we rather immerse ourselves in the comfort of passivity than challenge the status quo?
These are introspective questions sprung from the bright mind of a contemporary Spanish artist who has found an ideal catalyst for further discussion on canvas.
Press release courtesy Choi&Lager Gallery.