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WonSam Shin  

(Korean, b.1982)

Exhibition view

Exhibition view


145.5x97cm Oil and Acrylic on Canvas 2011

Exhibition view

Brave new world, Unfamiliar Utopia


SangMi Kim _Art Critic


SHIN Wonsam’s works remind me a novel <Brave new world>. The new world which was presented by Aldous Huxley, the author of <Brave new world>is a world where the scientific civilization had been extremely advanced even production of human is possible and everybody is happy and equal. He conjured a terrifying new world by using biological determinism and environmental determinism. Is that really a perfect new world? The world which was painted by SHIN Wonsam’s seems confined de-individualized human in the tragic utopia which was introduced by Aldous Huxley. Two contradictory but somehow look similar scenes subtlety overlapped. In the middle of a city, he is blankly staring somewhere. What is the thing that he is staring while standing at there for over an hour? At the street where many people and speeding cars are passing by, hazy air and streets covered by dust, what does he think about? For one minute, five minutes and ten minutes, for a while, he cannot take his eyes off the ever-changing street scenery because he realized that all the things surround him is changing quickly with him as a central figure. He sees the dense buildings, shop signboards and the differentiated individuals who are passing by. However after a while, the scenery suddenly disappeared. Every individual things what he saw was imprisoned into an image, mixed altogether, even whole the scenery of the city was tossed and people seem that they begin to transform as a similar figure. And eventually they were buried as a series of sceneries in his cognition.


SHIN Wonsam created the landscapes of street which is changing in his cognition and put them into his memory and canvas. In the big canvas, the street which was covered with dazzling color paints and seems as if it will flow down is showing. In here, flowing down means a thing which is never fixed but is changing fluidly. The street which was expressed with thick and clotted paints on the canvas and the vestiges of flown paints are not only the natural material expression of an artist but also related to the complicated state of mind which was revealed from the memory of street. The only thing which is possible to estimate form in the scenery created by him is bluish human which were expressed briefly. So to speak, it is the group of human that undistinguishable and exposes their clod bluish skin. In general, people in society and city seem usually has been acknowledged as a cold subject and he feel the same way. Therefore, the state of human in contemporary times was tinged with blue which is directly connected to this impression. They called cold blue and seem never independent. They seem in a pitiable and pathetic state with lethargy, tiredness and despair that even they cannot express their opinions. Humans who subsist on modern civilization are cold but lonesome and depressed. We don’t know where actually they are, however they look like stay in somewhere at the middle of a bustling street in the city where he was. The ordinary scene of city seems insecurity as if it will even engulf them someday. To artists, the themes such as ‘when I was young’, ‘memories of childhood’ are fun and interesting. These sorts of stories are really common as we’d heard at one time or another. However, they seem had been changed somehow as old stories in these days after achieving rapid economic development. It is no wonder that it is only something different old story to us, on the other hand, modern cultivation of these days which has been developing infinitely is unfamiliar and something different to people in the past. That place where SHIN Wonsam was standing, a middle of the brilliant city would seem a brave new world or unfamiliar utopia for the older generation.People in recent times living tomorrow as today without looking back yesterday. Losing the essential values of life, we were domesticated by repetitive patterns of life involuntarily. This phenomenon seem show the formal life of contemporary people who forget to care and response to the changes in their surrounding while acclimatizing to the rapid development and its pace of time. The artist feels strange at people in these days who has no feeling for the changes of the world anymore and his state which stared acceleration of time indifferently. It is a matter of course that human always adapt to the faced environment in everywhere. Whether we did or someone made us to do that, humans are forced to be accustomed to the place, time and given environment for living forgetting any uncomfortable according to the changes in surroundings. This fearful adaptation capacity seems already dominated body and soul of human. It is for survive, quite instinctive and comfortable ability.



Brave new world


Vittoria Biasi _ Art historian&critic


Shin Won-sam proposes some very large paintings within the rooms of MOA Gallery in Seoul, where he is confronted with the representation of the contemporaneity that is an accomplishment of a social, community transformation involving the globalized world.

The exhibition, by art critic Kim Sang-mi, is entitled Brave New World. The pictorial and poetic composition of the work suggests literature and art history references.

The artist paints the streets of a globalized centre with bright chromatism, with buildings connoting the contemporary architecture identical at New York, Seoul, Bangkok, and Shanghai. The glass facades appear to have no memory of life, of traditions, of different people’s cultures. The perception of a global view of the contemporaneity determines the artist into a convergence between the pictorial and literary texts that are framed around the book Brave New World of Aldous Huxley published during 1932 in London and written during a stay in Italy. Huxley’s irony presenting a technological world that is standardized and divided into castes happy to be consumerist. In Shin Won-sam takes the language  to extremes. The burning confrontation between existence and thought are brought together in conflicting relations by the artist. Shin Won-sam draws a world that is sliding on two linked rails mastered by “running out” time that cancels, dematerializes the reality. Extraction of architecture, landscape and chromatic montages tell us of a loss of touch process to the daily life, building of pathways towards virtuality.  The lower part of the painting is fixed by a blue skyline: the division of pictorial space reminds us the old exchange energy thought between yin and yang that nowadays is configured differently. The blue world is populated of monochromatic creatures, evocation of pictorial tradition that in the West sealed the encounter of thought and eastern culture. The monochromatic expressivity is the origin of a new figuration and of a different idea of space.

The characters of Shin Won-sam challenge the necessity of a different time, interiorization and reworking of emotion, of mental associations, of memories caused by images or sounds. The artist brings the observation within the limits of  bearableness  or controlled sensation on an even keel. The  pictorial elements do not go towards a concept of end, but they reach the suspension which is a place of choice and authority. The creatures of Shin Won-sam have the light of glass; they are the contemporary counterpoint of the building fronts giving a feeling of emptiness, of lack of warm-heartedness, of life unconcerned like a processing data terminal.


July. 29. 2011





Brave New World

Jul. 30 - Aug. 25, 2011