Living in a constant overflow of visual information, one image can lead me to another thoughts and it gains the whole new meaning. For instance, some random paintings from art history cross my mind when I am flipping through overwhelming amount of visual stimulations on social media. Also the unexpected encounter with a volunteer worker with blue uniform on the street triggers the link to the blue dress of Dorothy and her ruby slippers. What would be the correlation among them? And also how Dorothy’s ruby slippers related to contemporary women’s desire?
With wit and irony starting from curiosity on this matter, the latest series of work, Twister Game, is a result of an exploration to establish a close communication to the viewer: by parodying pop culture code and homage to masterpieces. So these large-scale oil paintings address issues not only on art historical references but also on the contemporary politics and hot issues in worldwide, incorporating a wide range of tropes and influences.
As the title of the exhibition “Twisted” implies, players of the Twister game are easy to spot throughout the paintings. The “Dorothy-esque” girls in a group dance and the kids playing a mass game are portrayed repetitively. These imageries suggest the collective behavior of human being and also subtly resemble with images of the ranks in Ukiyo-e prints. Moreover, the flying birds across the canvases are appropriated from Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds, and also remind the crows in Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, Wheatfield with Crows, 1890. The recurring image of the spectator in a red cloak is borrowed from Hieronymus Bosch’s Conjurer, 1502, and it symbolizes “the deceiver and the deceived relationship”; human traits that allow for deception and victimization. The lured spectator stares at the long nosed Pinocchio but also ghostly appears as the buried images in hidden object pictures. The adopted images from art history and pop-culture are tangled with self-replicated images on SNS: Sewol ferry incidents and Donald Trump’s ridiculous hair flip paparazzi shot on gossip section. They altogether create what is today as Ukiyo-e did in Edo period.
Such continuous sequence of forms also coexists with random images drawn from mundane life. We are living in a life under the notion of “fact and fiction”, in other words, “reality and illusion” which is constantly shifting back and forth. This means that our lives are utterly intertwined as the twisted players’ limbs on the game board. However, in this confused fictional world, trivial everyday lives’ images are depicted as an error which is used as a means to abruptly pull us back to reality. Subconscious and amorphous forms exist as an error in rational thought process and manifest itself as vividly colored digital error, glitch, which signals the exploration of virtual world is finally coming to an end and the reality awaits us to awake.
While I have derived inspiration from diverse channels in the light of today, there is no need to have prior knowledge on art history or awareness on buried signifiers in order to enjoy my work. But with all of its’ charm and irony, I just wish the audience finds the joy in discovering the hidden narratives and symbols and bringing their own memories and interpretation. It might reside somewhere in between the familiar and the unfamiliar. At the moment the viewer recalls the image from their own storage without acknowledge, they are invited to endless imagination to the world where the forces of nature, and terror have taken hold. by Chae Eun Rhee