A fascination with tattoos lies at the core of Kim Joon's work. Following debut exhibitions in Hong Kong and New York, the Korean artist presents new work for his first solo show in Beverly Hills. Using three-dimensional computer graphics, Kim creates digital prints and videos of undulating nude bodies covered in ink. Supine figures are enveloped by bold logos and prints from luxury brands such as Ferragamo, Montblanc, and Vivienne Westwood forming a surreal landscape. Kim's tattoo imagery provokes questions about the impact of consumerism on society. The artist says, "I am interested in tattoos as a metaphor for hidden desire or a kind of compulsion engraved into human consciousness. Tattoos can reflect individual and collective reality or displaced desire."
Kim's exploration of tattoos stems from his experiences tattooing his peers while in the Korean military. In his earliest works, Kim grappled with the notion of tattoos as socially taboo in present-day Korean society. He created sculptures that mimicked tattooed portions of flesh. Using water-based markers, he embellished latex-coated sponges, creating vivid, anthropomorphic parts divorced from the human form.
The artist's recent work neatly overturns the negative connotations surrounding tattoos. In his hands, not only do tattoos reflect social habits and desires but they're also a vehicle for transforming the body into a highly aestheticized object. Using animation software, Kim renders three-dimensional bodies onto which he meticulously grafts photographs of human, animal, and artificially created skin. He then superimposes tattoos of colorful brand logos and patterns. The close-range photographs expose skin pores and pigmentation heightening the immediacy of ink entering flesh. Vibrantly colored, Kim's entangled tattooed figures are suggestive and sensual, fluid and erotically intimate.
Kim Joon was born in 1966 in Seoul, Korea, where he currently lives and works. He has exhibited his work at the Total Museum, Seoul, Korea; The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwachon, Korea; the National Taiwan Museum; Canvas International Art gallery, Amsterdam; Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin; Gallery Hyundai, Paris; Sabina Lee gallery, Los Angeles; Walsh Gallery, Chicago; Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Hong Kong; and Sundaram Tagore Gallery, New York.
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