A fascination with tattoos lies at the core of Kim Joon's work. Having exhibited widely in Asia and Europe, this is the Korean artist's first solo exhibition in New York. The exhibition is part of Asian Contemporary Art Week 2009 (www.acaw.net), which runs from May 10 until May 18.
Using computer graphics, Joon creates digital prints of undulating nude bodies covered in tattoos. Headless figures are strewn across bold logos and patterns from luxury brands such as Ferragamo, Montblanc, and Vivienne Westwood. Joon'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."
Joon's exploration of tattoos stems from his experiences tattooing his peers while in the Korean military. In his earliest works, Joon grappled with the notion of tattoos as socially taboo in 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 they reflect social habits and desires but they're also a vehicle for transforming the body into a highly aetheticized object. Vibrantly colored, Joon's anonymous tattooed figures are surreal and sensual, evoking a sense of fluidity and erotic intimacy.
Kim Joon was born 1966 in Seoul, Korea, where he currently lives and works. He has exhibited 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; and Walsh Gallery, Chicago.
This exhibition is curated by Inhee Iris Moon and supported by a research grant from the Kongju National University in 2009.
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