Losing my Saatchi virginity…

Ok, so that’s not entirely true – although this is the first time I’ve ever bothered to go all the way with the Saatchi gallery, i.e. stay long enough to see all of the works on show. Usually I give up by about gallery 6, which is not very good going for an art gallery with fourteen rooms.

The current exhibition: Korean Eye, shows the latest work  flying out of Korea into the international arts scene – and it’s impressive! A huge range of mediums, subjects and styles but all still identifiably Eastern.

As usual for the Saatchi Gallery most of the artwork is large scale and powerful; however usually when I visit Saatchi the work seems to be powerful just because of this vast scale – the same cannot be said for Korean Eye, and even some small paintings have snuck in!

These works are by Bae Joonsung, who is actually a man – that sounds like an odd thing to say, but usually artworks give a clue about the artist’s gender, you can usually just tell, and these pieces are overwhelmingly feminine. It’s fantastic to see some really accomplished painting being appreciated – especially in an institute like Saatchi which is usually quite edgy, and has featured ‘artworks’ like cling film hanging from the ceiling.

Joonsung paints these multi-layered compositions with the aid of lenticular – as the name suggests this is a type of lens which can also be printed over images using an oversized lithographic press to create a transformative effect.

His interest in Lenticular began with a plastic writing sheet, which to Joonsung “were something with an importance beyond that other kids could imagine. (-) Of the precious sheets, the paramount was the so-called “transforming plastic sheet”- a yellow smiley face flaunting itself right in the center, now smiling, now crying. That was my first encounter with lenticular in my childhood.”

He combines this lenticular with masterful oil painting and digital photography, overlaid with oils for an uncannily real moving effect: it’s a brilliant combination of classical imagery and techniques, with a little of the new, softly added.

Sometimes it’s just nice to see something beautiful and completely inoffensive in a contemporary gallery, and especially to have good draughtsmanship appreciated – as if you’ve ever read a couple of my posts before, you’ll know how much I hate – nay, loathe – ‘naive’ aka bad painting. There’s just no excuse!

Before the title of  each of Joonsung’s ‘Lenti + Canvas’ paintings comes the phrase The Costume of Painting, which

 “signifies a certain layer derived through eyes of the artist. I have always believed that when an artist paints, with his or her eyes caressing over the model, the painting created through eyes of the artist brings birth to another model. However, the model painted or created, hovering somewhere around the artist’s free will, demands in turn that the artist paint again. This demand springs from the physical and mental time of the artist’s painting. In the end, the phrase,”the costume of painter”, implies not the costume painted by artist, but what suddenly happens to the artist while painting the costume.” – Bae Joonsung

More artists should include notes on their websites, there’s something about having the work directly explained to you by the maker.

So, get over to Saatchi to see some real-life moving paintings – just like Harry Potter! There’s much more to come from me on the subject of Korean Eye, but firstly I felt that Joonsung deserved his own post and secondly I am yet again very ready for bed.



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