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Space Fountain is delighted to announce the first solo show of POSE in S.Korea, who creates the powerful illusions with vibrant colors and overlapped images. <Fire Escape> conveys the artist's reflections on life and art over the years. We hope you enjoy the exhibition by putting the puzzle pieces together hidden inside the images, and find a valuable meaning in your life.


Q. At first sight, viewers are fascinated by the vibrant colors and very delicate lines of your work. And we, the viewers, are also drawn to anonymous figures. Is this anonymity intentional? Could you explain the process of creating figures and erasing parts of them to keep them mysterious?

In terms of  anonymity yes, it is intentional but sometimes used for different reasons. I sometimes use the reduction or erasing of vital features to enhance their importance in a painting.  For instance, If I want to emphasize a gesture, say the desire to speak, be heard, or almost shout something out, then I might eliminate the mouth because it heightens that conflict and tension from it missing in the composition. Also many years ago when I was speaking on a panel at the Museum of Contemporary art in LA about Sanrio (the makers of Hello kitty) the notion was raised that the universal power of Kitty’s design is her lack of expression -It is a blank canvas for the viewer to project their emotions onto. I loved that notion and completely agree that there is a power in leaving a piece of the story unexplained and the only person who can complete the story is the viewer.


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Q. Your work has multiple layers which make three-dimensional movement and illusion. Could you explain these layers?

I was born in 1980 so I was heavily influenced by that era alongside all the rapid advances of the digital revolution. From the early 8-bit video games to the introduction of digital cameras, the evolution of the internet and its effect on me. I’ve always wanted to question the idea of “hyperreality” or a “2D/3D” space in a painting.

Q. We’ve researched your artwork and the background of how you’ve developed your own style. One of the articles mentioned about the political and social meanings behind your paintings, could you explain a bit more about these messages and how you incorporate these messages in your work?

I work intuitively letting my subconscious guide the work pulling together layers of meaning into the final piece. I pull from my own personal experiences as well as others around me, allowing it all to manifest into a unique narrative or completed puzzle. I try very hard not to make paintings that are polarizing social or political commentary, but rather an honest puzzle derived from the human condition that consists of multiple messages. So some of the puzzle pieces often contain social and political aspects.

Q. Not all, but some of your paintings are combined with very bright and vivid neon colors and also dark colors such as black and charcoal gray, achieving a good balance. Do you design these color palettes precisely in advance, or is there any spontaneity?

Normally most of the color palettes I use come from my time painting graffiti around the world and my time as a sign painter, all this has influenced my visual language pulled from the streets over the years.  That said, I absolutely love color!  It has such incredibly strong powers to communicate and evoke emotions.  Also yes, I did very specifically choose to work with the color palettes you mentioned for this Fire Escape show for a couple of reasons. I have only very recently discovered a sense of serenity in my life and I have been using matte black and charcoal grey to evoke and express that inner peace. Since black doesn’t radiate light- it is the absence of color I thought it would be a proper tool to express a “lack of noise”, or a quiet moment and space in a painting. I work with so many neon and vibrant colors to utilize their ability to radiate. I experience them at times moving past the painted surface and evoking an emotional and physical presence. I attempt to intensify each color’s character by pairing “loud” and “quiet” colors in a way I felt was harmonious.


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Q. Tell us about the collage technique. Obviously, collage is the main way of creating your work, not just collecting and putting everything on the canvas. We noticed that you combine many different kinds of motives in the canvas and build up a layer of meanings. How do you arrange and place objects in the piece, and also how do you make everything eventually connect to your message/subject?

Although my work ends with a final very direct narrative or subject, I always begin making the work from a purely intuitive place and through the sketch process the narrative presents itself to me. collaging is a mixture of hand collaging, then hand drawing, then collaging on the computer, then hand painting on canvas or paper. For me, there are 3 steps to making a painting. First is collecting bits and pieces (I refer to them as puzzle pieces) from the visual world that has power or personal significance to me. Second is spending days, sometimes weeks with all the “puzzle pieces” in a state of feverish intuitive collaging until things finally begin to “feel” right. From there my job is to aesthetically refine/complete that narrative with scale, form, and color. Sometimes the deeper meaning of the work is discovered in this last stage. The Relief series of paintings ended up being a deeply personal reflection about the struggle between the ego-self and higher self. The times I have attempted to purely intellectualize a full concept first and then execute it the result felt very cold, calculated, and foreign. 

Q. How do you name the paintings? Sometimes it seems the relationship between the title and the painting is not obvious. Do you prefer to hide a secretive meaning in your work or title?

I stay away from very literal titles on artwork for a couple of reasons. When I’m a viewer I enjoy spending real time with an artist’s work, building a personal relationship, and letting it speak to me and reveal anything that comes with little direction. For me, an overly direct title can stop my curiosity early or limit the potential of expanding personal associations I might get from a viewing experience. I very much desire a viewer to interact with my work and have an ever-evolving experience and over time deeply personal relationship with the work. I want the title to act as a strict clue for them. I feel like really great paintings are honest and generous enough to share connection and ownership between both artist and viewer, so I strive to keep titles like a silhouette or an open door rather than a closed case.

Q. Is there a difference between your canvas work and mural works? And also commonality?

My true first loves are painting real graffiti and making art in the studio. There was a brief time where I found my happy place painting murals but there quickly became an over-saturation of street art mural painting, festivals, and a whole industry that spawned around it.  Painting large-scale in the street with spray paint is one of my favorite things to do in the world, but all the early hype around street art murals felt a little forced and disingenuous for me to really commit to at the time. The street/ public sphere is such a sacred, rich and loaded environment that any work that resides in it should be directly influenced by it and vice versa, otherwise, it can feel like another billboard for a brand rather than public art. So I took a step away from murals and don’t paint them often, but hope to return to them at some point with a new perspective and vigor. In the end, yes there is a huge difference between canvas and murals. Indoors it can be similar to creating music in a recording studio and outdoors you are performing live in the middle of the crowd and at times the final recording involves full-blown collaboration with everyone around you. Also, there is a physical component of engaging your whole body and all your  senses that can be unbelievably fun with painting on the streets. I can find myself in a flow state both indoors and outdoors, but working indoors evokes a more personal flow while outdoors creates a more communal flow.


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Q. Can you share what message you want to give the audience through this first solo show at Space Fountain Gallery in Seoul, S.Korea? What would be the main subject? Also, please share your future plans.

First and foremost I love Seoul and when I used to travel there to paint and explore (over 10+ years ago) I always had an incredible time and left completely inspired so I hope my show returns the favor by giving a little gift of gratitude and inspiration to Seoul! My deep desire is for the audience to get a moment to temporarily lose track of time, identify, explore and build a personal relationship with the work. In terms of upcoming work this year, I will be participating a massive group exhibition at Saatchi Gallery in London, a solo exhibition at Chins gallery in Thailand, and a solo exhibition at Omni gallery in London.

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