gimhongsok’s work shows overlapping interpretations which can be drawn from an object. His 2012 exhibition “People Objective-Wrong Interpretation” was a triple repetition of the same show, which was taken to three pieces by the three viewpoints of ‘labor, metaphor, and attitude’ as the color print is made of a combination of red, blue and yellow. Here, even the disparity between objective explanations and personal interpretations, as well as the gap between creation and interpretation, became important elements which consist of a work of art. gimhongsok approaches this disparity under the four themes with the followings.
The first theme is about the way of appropriating the so-called ‘originals.’ The ambiguous subject with multiple layers which is a result of the process of imitation and appropriation is widely found not only in arts but also in almost all realms of life. gimhongsok’s methods of appropriating and citing the works of Francis Alÿs, Santiago Sierra, Maurizio Cattelan, etc. may remind you of Sherrie Levine’s art practice which is fairly close to plagiarism. However, gimhongsok’s appropriation is marked by more evil-pretending and intentional fictions. In his 2005 exhibition titled “Your Neighbor’s Wife,” he took a picture of the Luc Tuymans’s catalog, enlarged the photo and displayed it. Although looking perfectly the same as the original, this work deliberately reveals itself as a copy by showing a part of the fold of the catalog. This seemingly meaningless ‘self-confessional theft’ suggests in a roundabout way that ironically enough, the mutual reference within the contemporary art scene is quite essential and productive.
The second deals with the institutional ethics of the production of contemporary art. Artistic creation involves a variety of people including curators, critics, assistants, installation experts, and so on. gimhongosk raises a question about why, nevertheless, an artist monopolizes the sovereign authority over the entire artwork. He had a series of performances of employing day workers and making them create his work. His 2011 exhibition “Ordinary Strangers” was composed of five actors who explained about his works in an empty exhibition room. When artworks on display become a mere message, their uniqueness or originality turns into a completely different rumor by the messenger’s way of speaking, attitude, and interpretation. Thus, the artwork is the total of critical impressions and rumors regarding it. gimhongsok presents this finding in the form of artwork, creating feedback between a work and its interpretation.
The third relates to what gimhongsok calls ‘subsidiary construction,’ or the issue of the status of materials. Contemporary art has denied the position which was once automatically given to the artwork by the traditional ‘art’ materials such as oil paints, bronze, marble, etc. As a result, we have arrived to the point where thrown-away objects, consumer products, and disposable items like scrap metal, waste tires, discarded furniture, and plastics, are regarded as prominent materials for making art. In this sense, gimhongsok’s resin or bronze sculptures of a paper box or a plastic bag shows a rather intentional deception which mixes the tradition and contemporaneity. Inadequate (EVERY, DAY, ACTS, LIKE, LIFE), presented in this exhibition, is a bronze piece depicting balloon letter. The phrase in the title, ‘acts like life,’ suggests the compatibility of deceit, parody, the inversion of the subject, and historical memory.
Similarly, the fourth theme, the ‘completed as unfinished’ work, is also related to the situation of contemporary art which no longer fulfills the traditional requirement for completing a work. For example, in Untitled(a long red wall), one of the works shown at Perrotin Tokyo, the artist himself applied acrylic paint on the wall of the exhibition hall using a paint roller. Here, the gallery wall which appears to be roughly painted, not well or perfectly painted (though the artist says that he paints with his whole heart and so that it may look impeccably beautiful) becomes a work of art.
gimhongsok’s work is both about the times he lives in and himself who is living and working in them. It is not only a comment on the most creative and exceptional conditions taking place in the contemporary art scene, but also a critical and humorous example of contemporary art itself which admits of those very conditions.