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Mutable Memory

Namju BAE


The art market has undergone various changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the development of online platforms. In this ever-changing art market, GALLERY MAC aims to spotlight artists who have steadfastly pursued their own paths without being swayed by trends or consumer preferences. Instead of conforming to market trends or consumer tastes, we seek to showcase artists who have dedicated over a decade to their craft, demonstrating integrity, direction, authenticity, and depth in their work through “GALLERY MAC FOCUS.”


The first artist featured in GALLERY MAC’s curated exhibition “2024 GALLERY MAC FOCUS” is artist Namju Bae. Born in 1985, Namju Bae has been exploring the concept of ‘intermediate spaces’ through his flat painting work since the early stages of his career. He visualizes the ‘uncertainty’ inherent in the concept of ‘intermediate’ by negating dichotomous situations and embracing ambiguity. Drawn to the indeterminate ‘space between,’ where concepts like happiness and unhappiness, life and death, inside and outside, light and darkness, reality and ideal blur, the artist sets the concept of ‘intermediate’ as an ‘alternative ideal world,’ expressing the uncertain world pictorially.

배남주, 가변기억4, 162.2×112.1cm, Mixed media on canvas, 2024

Namju Bae’s artistic world bears resemblance to the deconstructive thinking of French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Seeking to liberate art from a rational architectural impulse, Derrida highlighted the concept of ‘parergon’ in his work “The Truth in Painting (1978).” ‘Parergon’ refers to the adjunct of an artwork, namely the ‘frame,’ which surrounds the essential artwork(ergon). Derrida argued that the frame, as a middle ground demarcating the world of art and the external world, also influences the artwork. Rejecting a binary understanding of essential and non-essential, Derrida emphasized the ambiguity and instability of a world that cannot be clearly defined, akin to his concept of ‘différance.’ Similarly, Namju Bae’s artistic endeavor to visually define and implement this ‘uncertain ideal world’ is as paradoxical as it is thought-provoking, as he constantly engages in methodological research and contemplation, expanding the concept and painterly methodology of his work.

배남주, 망각(Oblivion), 91x91cm, Mixed media on canvas, 2022

The solo exhibition “Mutable Memory” encapsulates narratives derived from the artist’s contemplation on ‘uncertainty,’ exploring how our perception of the world is not fixed; rather, it is continually reshaped and transformed by past events and present experiences. Through a series of acts involving covering and scraping off paint from photographs capturing moments believed to be factual from the past, the artist reveals how our memories are transformed by present experiences. The resulting artwork, a combination of photographic images and painting, illustrates the formation of new present and memory. The artist raises questions about our perception and experience through his work, exploring how the interaction between past and present shapes our reality. Through the exhibition “Mutable Memory,” we hope to expand the interpretation of the artwork by exploring the ‘uncertain’ interaction between the artist and the artwork, and between the artwork and the audience.

2F, 162 Dalmaji-gil117beonna-gil, Haeundae-gu, Busan, 48115, South Korea

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