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Figure Ground

Novo, Momo Kim, Jeehye Son

We instinctively organize our perception of things by categorizing the dynamics of visual elements into those that are dominant and those that are subordinate. This process of selecting and retaining only the images we deem essential from the vast information we perceive through our senses is elaborated in Gestalt psychology through the perceptual principle of figure and ground. In this light, Seojung Art Busan curated “Figure Ground” to allow an exploration of the liberated gaze through the figure and ground interpretations through the lens of Novo, Momo Kim, and Jeehye Song.

노보_Untitled_2023_17.9×25.8cm_Acrylic on canvas

Novo (b.1982) persistently experiments with planes of objects, drenched in vibrant colors and saturated with his own memories. He traverses the streets of downtown Tokyo and the back alleys of Los Angeles, gathering fragments of culture that resonate with him, from vending machine miniatures to post office boxes from foreign lands. These objects are presented against a black backdrop in a manner that negates visual hierarchy and emphasizes frontality. Towering columns of gleaming yellow medals and vivid red objects, such as ketchup bottles and rugby balls, become self-bestowed trophies, an honor he shares with himself as well as the audience. Anchored by memories and aspirations, these trophies morph into lively sculptures that immortalize moments in time.

모모킴_what is your happiest memory_2023_53x65cm_Acrylic on canvas

Within Momo Kim’s (b.1992) iPad, familiar everyday objects are rhythmically illustrated with soft pastel hues and sleek lines. Elements that once were mere background fixtures in someone’s space now reinvent themselves as pink, pristine protagonists within the pictural space. Items like vases, hand mirrors, stands, and dolls craft their unique silhouettes and rhythms to form harmonious compositions, culminating not in an objective representation, but in a sensory confession of Kim’s personal observations.

송지혜_Selbsthass(self-hate)_2022_60x40cm_Arylic on cotton

Jeehye Song’s (b. 1990) practice, which endeavors to represent both the outer veneer and personal stories of daily life, exudes a deep self-awareness in her approach to life and art. The faces she depicts, with their rounded and voluminous features, prioritize an inner realm of mystical distress over mere form replication. Her long, relaxed strokes of drawing invoke and stimulate an unfiltered contemplation of foundational forms. The roughly painted brushwork on linen depicting blue toilet floor, and with the captivating sight of a paint streak trailing down a horned girl’s plump cheek, are few of the things in Song’s work that highlight the hidden nuances of life.

Objects, discrete in nature, are freely utilized and rearranged as either figures or grounds due to various factors. These factors stem not only from the immediate experience of an event but also from a perspective shaped by the passage of time. Given this, the plane serves as a storage for collective memory. We can then engage with evolving objects, sense their tangible essence, and focus keenly on aspects of daily life that might have been previously overlooked.


30, Dalmaji-gil, Haeundae-gu, Busan, Korea