Over the past thirty years that I’ve been in the fields of art and photography, art has become exceedingly banal. The authority surrounding images and art has long since handed over to an industry. Nowadays, real art means buying and selling works, building museums and curating exhibitions with the system. Stuck in the midst of all this are the artists of which I consider myself.
An “underprint” refers to the subtle print found on paper currency or stamps. My works are kind of similar in a way that they are drawings onto pictures of walls from different places: Seoul’s redevelopment areas, Changsin-dong, Hannam-dong, Busan, Cheongju, and Sinan-gun of Jeollanam-do. I took these photos at the time thinking I could make use of them somewhere. I then made drawings on them - something I’ve wanted to do for at least ten years.
Walls in Korea are uniquely Korean - flimsy, unorganized, left alone. These qualities are noticeable only in walls that are not of expensive buildings or houses of the rich.
I did not particularly make decisions on what to draw before making the works. I simply printed out the pictures and then made drawings until I wanted to make a specific one or until ideas occurred in my mind.
Works can be grouped into a few different categories: food; empty bowls; impressions and fancies of construction sites; slight political messages; references to and parodies of masterpieces; autobiographical content, and an overall cynicism on art. To my eight-year-old son, who contributed to some of the works, I promised to give a commission of 10 percent if they’re sold.
While writing this, I came across Woochang Kim’s writing on the failure of Korean poetry. He mentions that poets, including Jeongju Seo, wrote poems that were too sentimental and personal in nature. The poems of such self contented nature were devoid of any effects on the common cultural world that could respond or relate to concrete experiences and greater universality.
Concrete themes, experiences and general universality – I have not heard of those words for a long time. Where is the art that embodies this? This ideology based on aesthetic reasoning, influenced by Merleau-Ponty, startled me. It emerged over forty years ago, but what would happen if such reasoning is applied to the art of today? Que sera sera! I guess things will turn out one-way or the other.
Press release courtesy One And J. Gallery.