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Deformation of the Frame

Younguk Yi

Younguk Yi is an artist who explores the relationship between two and three dimensions in his art. Through several series of works, he has developed his artistic world by transforming his previous works. While his previous series explored the transition from two-dimensional to three-dimensional and back again, uncovering underlying aspects and possibilities through this process, his solo exhibition “Deformation of the Frame” seems to focus on painting instead, aiming to expand the sensory experience of imagery through an experimental exploration of the act of ‘repetition’ inherent in painting.

관찰자를 바라보는 이들은 자신들의 숙명을 이해하고자 했다_불안으로 비틀어진 돌출된 시선과 이미지_acrylic on linen_193.3×260.6㎝_2024

In his previous works, the overlapping of images was the predominant form throughout the series. For example, in past works, figures disintegrate into unrecognizable forms before being reassembled in a row, completing a bizarre shape. The variation of shapes, where one representation fills the entire canvas in two dimensions and becomes a single mass in three dimensions, is realized through a series of acts involving the repetitive arrangement of specific subjects or motifs. Through such imagery, he questions how the form of “representation” in art history has influenced the perception of subjects. And the artist seems to propose the form of ‘repetition’ as a method to materialize these doubts.

무리에서 벗어나는 이는 배척당할 이유가 충분하다_불안함으로 비틀어진 돌출된 시선과 이미지_1_acrylic on linen_193.3×260.6㎝_2024

Through a methodology of dismantling and reassembling shapes, Younguk Yi questions how the form of ‘repetition’ operates in today’s society. In the paintings presented in this solo exhibition, corporeal subjects, depicted realistically yet fragmented in a grotesque manner, overlap and unfold. The distinctive feature of the subjects here lies in their display through detailed depictions, evoking sensory impulses in viewers through emphasized images aligned in a row. Moreover, the strange composition of the images evokes computer graphics or generated images, leading the audience into a visual illusion.

20개의 손_acrylic on linen_193.3×130.3㎝_2024

The main subject matter in his work is ‘primates.’ The image of primates, appearing as a metaphor for imagining the future, according to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, is a historical product that shares a common ancestor with humans and has played a significant role in the scientific development of humanity. For the artist, the image of primates represents not only the original form of humans but also a subject that enables infinite replication and reproduction. This serves as a symbolic image for representing the human body, suggesting infinite replication while simultaneously appearing as a subject for painting reproduction.

목줄 없이 산책하는 개(1인칭 작가 시점에서 바라본 대상)_자코모 발라의 작품을 통해 연구한 반복_acrylic on linen_193.3×130.3㎝_2024

Within his canvases, the bodily characteristics resembling humans are positioned in a manner that reveals familiar aspects of the subject while inducing unfamiliarity and fear through deliberate repetition. Overlapping eye shapes, segmented body parts, fragmented hands and feet reconstruct a distorted form to create a single image again. This may seem to have a certain pattern at first glance, or it may induce misconceptions akin to representing certain symbols. Ultimately, the abstraction resulting in an incomplete image deliberately dismantles a series of visual cognitive processes aimed at reconstructing a known form, eliciting uncomfortable emotions such as strangeness and discomfort when confronted with an incomplete body, while implying the anxiety inherent in the compulsive act.

치즈돈까스 어느 분이신가요?_acrylic on linen_65.1×53.0㎝_2024

The act of empty and unconscious repetition is expressed through gestures imbued with the artist’s own anxiety, where gestures, utilizing airbrush techniques, settle onto the canvas in a precise and accurate manner, devoid of the artist’s physical presence. Gestures with clear trajectories are completed with the compulsive repetition of realistic yet fragmented bodily parts, functioning as a mechanism that directs the viewer’s gaze and reflects the anxiety inherent in the viewer. In this process, the abstraction that resembles a kind of digital error encompasses the sensory experience of humans in the age of ‘generated images.’ Tools for generating images, including artificial intelligence, create images beyond human imagination based on technological advancements. This also seems to symbolize a phase in the artist’s experimentation with painting that overcomes a series of processes involving the generation and retrieval of images within the screen.

어리석은 이들을 대하기 위한 현명한 자세_불안함으로 비틀어진 돌출된 시선과 이미지_acrylic on linen_193.3×130.3㎝_2024

As a result, the exhibition “Deformation of the Frame” consists solely of works completed through the artist’s conception, excluding digital technology. Through the process of dismantling, repeating, and forming corporeal shapes, it metaphorically alludes to self-replicating mechanisms by presenting forms reminiscent of glitches in digital images. Beyond the reproduction of images, the repetitive chain reaction that the era represents functions as a device in Younguk’s artworks, reminding viewers of the current state of humanity and the impulses of future anxiety through the images of primates. Therefore, the self-replication presented here opposes the hollow act of existence within a manipulated society and challenges the constant exploration of countless images.

Younguk’s representation of ‘repetition’ as a form overturns the traditions of art history, which have often used repetition as a tactic for ideology. Instead, it establishes itself as a strategy to explore the replication and exclusivity permitted by computer screens and technical devices in the digital image era. The series of his works solidify the direction of vision through the repetitive presentation of the same concept. His attitude and direction towards painting, manifested through the reproduction and repetition of concrete forms, aim to retell the history of form through painting and reproduction, confronting viewers and the anxieties of contemporary humanity.

45-14, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea