"Simon Fujiwara: Who is Who-Dimensional?" recently opened in Milan

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"Simon Fujiwara: Who is Who-Dimensional?" recently opened in Milan
Simon Fujiwara. Who is Who-Dimensional? 16.02. – 19.04.2023. Installation view Gió Marconi, Milan. Courtesy: the artist; Gió Marconi, Milan. Photo: Fabio Mantegna.

MILAN.- Gió Marconi announced Who is Who-Dimensional?, Simon Fujiwara’s third solo exhibition at the gallery, hasreturned to its former venue in Via Tadino 15 in Milan this past February 17th, and will continue through to April 20th, 2023.

Building on a string of international exhibitions centered around his cartoon character Who the Baer, Fujiwara presents a body of new two dimensional or ‘flat works’ from his highly acclaimed series which debuted in 2020 at the Fondazione Prada, Milan.

Who the Baer was developed by the artist during the first pandemic lockdown as a ‘Dada-esque response to an increasingly absurd and incomprehensible world.’ Faced with the seemingly unresolvable questions raised by global protests and the dissolution of our traditional identity structures, Fujiwara created an avatar in the form of an identity-free cartoon character named ‘Who’ – a white, fuzzy bear with a golden heart and an impossibly long tongue. Who, as they are lovingly known, seemingly has no race, no gender, no sexuality and not even a clear design – only one thing is clear: that they are an image moving through a world of other images, and as such they have the unique ability to shape shift and perform any identity they wish. But will Who ever find a true, authentic self? Indeed, does a cartoon character even want to be authentic when it might be enough for them simply to appear to be authentic?

Since Who the Baer was first created over two years ago, the universe or Whoniverse of Fujiwara’s cartoon character has expanded from drawings, paintings and sculptures, to stop frame animations, a children’s book and an ongoing series of merchandise made in collaboration with well-known brands under the umbrella of the “Whotique” – a Who the Baer boutique.

In this exhibition at the gallery, Fujiwara presents a body of new works that explore several of the main topics of Who the Baer from gender identity and nationalism to online dating and cultural appropriation through a series of new ‘flat works’ on canvas, paper and screen-based animations. Using the metaphor of flatness to underscore Who the Baer’s eternal status as an image, a large body of works in this exhibition remix art historical icons, simultaneously exalting and emptying them of content as they are plunged into the bizarre, megalomanic cartoon world of Who. The exhibition culminates in a specially conceived site-specific room of works from the Italian cultural patrimony which, seen through the eyes of a cartoon character, cast a searing yet humorous eye on national identity through its most cherished symbols.

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