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gimhongsok returns to Japan for his first solo exhibition at Perrotin Tokyo
gimhongsok, View of the exhibition “EVERY, DAY, ACTS, LIKE, LIFE” at Perrotin Tokyo. September 21 – November 10 © Photo: Kei Okano. Courtesy of the artist & Perrotin.

TOKYO.- Perrotin Tokyo is presenting a solo exhibition by the Korean conceptual artist gimhongsok. Showcasing seven artworks, the exhibition offers an overview of the artist’s core interests and recent creations.

gimhongsok returns to the Japanese capital for his first solo exhibition at Perrotin Tokyo. He is presenting three sculptures from the Inadequate (EVERY, DAY, ACTS, LIKE, LIFE) series, each a bronze work cast in the form of clustered modelling balloons. The artist continues his career-long examination of mistranslation and cultural translation. In these sculptures, the balloons remain untwisted—contrary to their typical use for making balloon animals. Instead, the balloons lean on each other in a haphazard manner, slanted or roughly parabolic, all painted black. Deception and humor are found in the textural juxtaposition between form and material, while the artist continues his satire of lowbrow but popular contemporary artworks, specifically sleek, aerodynamic sculptures of balloon dogs that wear peppy, anodized hues. In these uncomplicated visual cues and references to another contemporary artist’s work, questions of authenticity arise. The humor that gimhongsok brings to his art also delivers acute, critical observations and commentary: As the artist has stated in the past, “Perfect is always wrong.(1)

The sculptures of the Inadequate series have been set before Untitled - a site specific wall mural created using a paint roller and acrylic by gimhongsok. The artist is challenging the traditional definition of a completed artwork. gimhongsok says that it is how he pours his whole heart into painting the mural that makes it beautiful(2) , so that the work is “completely completed.” Here, gimhongsok is interested in the gap between an artwork and the viewers’ subjective interpretation, and provides a space for dialogue to close that rift. Calling back to Marcel Duchamp’s contributions to the meaning of art, gimhongsok demonstrates that it is the artist’s intention that elevates an object to a work of art.

In addition to these three bronze sculptures and the mural work, there are two paintings and one additional cast resin sculpture in the show. The paintings were made by painstakingly repeating precise line drawings using slender brushes and wooden chopsticks. After slowly coating the canvas with a layer of acrylic paint, gimhongsok applied an additional layer of gold pigment manufactured by the artist himself, sealing a simple artwork in splendor. Though the painting’s creation process required intensive labor and an incredible amount of time, the procedures could be replicated or mimicked by anyone, even those with no artistic training. Again, the artist interrogates the role of art in society—both the Korean society and a globalized community—by leading viewers to question what qualities make a good artwork, and whether social attitudes or cultural manners impact the meaning and interpretation of art.

Finally, the cast resin sculpture takes the form of a collection of cardboard boxes and packing materials, stacked and leaning against each other. The sculpture is the result of “subsidiary construction” that gimhongsok introduced into his work in 2008, which encapsulates the usage of by-products discarded during or after the production and transportation of his work, transforming them into central components of new creations. Not only does the artist conduct a meta exploration into his own practice, he also considers the essence of Korean modernity, at a time when many essential items are imported from abroad. This leads to inquiries of the mindsets, accepted norms and politics that shape Korean society, drawing from domestic traditions and ethoi while being increasingly integrated into a flattened world.

Born in 1964, gimhongsok lives and works in Seoul. He studied sculpture at Seoul National University and graduated in 1987, and then conducted postgraduate studies at Kunst Academy Düsseldorf. His conceptual art practice resists stylization, with works taking wildly varying forms and spanning many mediums, including video, performance, installation, painting and sculpture. The artist is a member of the three-piece art collective Xijing Men. He often imbues abstract meaning in everyday forms to interrogate the relationships between art and society, and to examine how art is able to exist in shifting economic and cultural systems. gimhongsok frequently presents solo shows and participates in group exhibitions worldwide, including high-profile international biennials, including those in Gwangju, Lyon, Istanbul and Taipei. In 2005, he was one of 15 artists to represent Korea at the 51st Venice Biennale. In 2012, he was one of the winners of the Korea Artist Prize.

2. Paraphrased from here:

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