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"Sidescape," the main subject Hong, Soun is working on, is a theme derived from a philosophical and scientific proposition called "parts and the whole," which Hong has been interested in for the past 20 years. Hong came to France in 1985 and, since then, worked on the objects of human figures and installation and researched on humans and their surroundings. Since late in 1990, he explored the whole universe while investigating into parts of mysterious time &space which is invisible to humans through combining animals and insects with their images. Since 2000, he has tried out all of his experiences in paintings, which are a fundamental genre of visual art. Drawing pictures is the most basic and expressive method and an everlasting genre not only for artists but for all mankind. Paintings, which have led the history of art from the beginning to the end, is still attractive to artists. Having experimented on many things like paintings, object installation, and video, Hong is now indulged in the attractiveness of drawings in the same manner as numerous artists have struggled to create new paintings on rectangular picture frames, cloths, dyes, brushes, and other traditional materials. People say that it is becoming more difficult to understand the identity of Hong, Soun's paintings since they are really mysterious.

This time, Seo Gallery is going to display 'sidescape' works created between 2005 and 2007 and they can be roughly classified into landscape paintings, figure paintings, and tourism card pictures described on big canvases. He tries to translate the ironic principles of the society into the expression of paintings by applying the eyes of the artist who has to anguish deeply over and contemplate on all the elements surrounding this world like politics, economy, culture, and philosophy, which are not separated from each other. The subject matters of his works including landscape, figure, and inanimate objects are also described using traditional methods. At the first glance, Hong's works seem to have monotonous colors and very static shapes or composition, but, in fact, they express unusual incidents, situations, or spaces by using small movements and slightly modified composition. We are living among enormous quantities of information and images flooding into our everyday life. Small and big wars, incidents and accidents taking place on this planet each day are represented or abstracted, as they are, in landscape and figure paintings, which are communicated by internet and digital cameras and providing numerous subject matters to post-modern artists. Here, the works of Hong, Soun go beyond the multitude, reality, and repetition of the photos taken by Baudrillard or Klaus and the post-modern world called simulacres, employing metaphysical modernism which reduces the world again to its original state. He as an artist is seeking to create the works of the times which maintain the aesthetic level of the art itself, while agonizing over such questions as What is the truthfulness of art? What is the goal of art? and What is artistic beauty? In his works, spaces are replaced with painting spaces in the spaces of replicated parts of photos or the parts appropriated from images modified at photo shops, so that the spaces of simulacres may coexist with the existential spaces of the artist. This is connected to one of his works entitled "Insectopia" and created in 1999, where insects are attracted by and fly away from seducing lights. The work is an expression of one-step advance from the world brought in by chance or chance through inevitability. "Sidescape" does not depict the post-modern world where various non-original images are mixed and coexist, but re-adopts such a photo as starts from real incidents and is made a symbol of images. It does not use the whole of a photo but parts of it and reproduces the original in a painting. The reality is mixed with an image, image with the orignal, and real space with painting while the concept of the original coexists with the works of the artist, enters into a more realistic world, is changed into a natural state and is contemplated in a painting once again."La vie en rose" works describe a continuous landscape installed in a mono tone like white, black, or pink. A landscape depicted on a small 16cm x 16cm square canvas is a part of a news photo, which is identified with a mark of the original photo and its corresponding text. However, the artist's autonomous volition staying away from the incident itself chooses the screen, which portrays the features of a new place. They are not an image of a hero of a tragic incident but an image of a beautiful tourism attraction, which is got rid of its emotions or overturned and changed into a place of curiosity. Without the text on the screen, they would become a superficial and anonymous landscape and remain as one of numberless scenes. Nevertheless, these works coexist together and serve as a gigantic landscape of an everyday life in the global village. The same also applies to figure works of "Celebrity."The commonplace figures in the works are captured in a news photo on a certain day when they are leading a life in an ordinary place in or near to the scene of the incident. They may also exist on the outskirts and remain anonymous or be highlighted as a hero. Hong highlights the figures who are the objects of partial appropriation as a hero one by one on the canvas, and then entitles them celebrities. Hong, Soun's figures do not become real big names but celebrities in symbols only. Incidents can be inferred from their face, which is characterized by antagonism, resistance, fear, smile, or sorrow. The figures described on the canvas communicate their emotions to any human race and, at the same time, the unfamiliar others.Hong, Soun's works have something to do with the holistic world view and the butterfly effect advocated by Kapla and with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's movie entitle "Babel" (2006). The holistic world view contends that the whole is not composed of individual parts but the parts are connected and deeply related with each other. As the nature of paintings tends to produce the whole at all times even though only parts are drawn, the artist seeks for the world surrounding us. Hong's paintings, which aspire after new art in this post-modern time, may incite many discussions. They will derive multiple criticisms from the mating of appropriation and paintings, and the criticisms include ideology, projection of ego, spaces of paintings, contingency of works themselves, and moderation of monotone-like expressions. This is none other than Hong's experiment to create new paintings by means of once again incorporating the diversity and changes of post-modernism into moderated and sophisticated modernism.

By Mi-jin Kim / Professor at Hongik University, advisor to Seo Gallery
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