Brit art galore at 'Cool Britannia'
By Kwon Mee-yoo
London is at center of the world’s attention right now as it hosts the 2012 Summer Olympics. For art lovers who cannot visit the city, an exhibition in Seoul presents eight prominent British artists.
“Cool Britannia,” going on at the new space of Gallery Hyundai in Sagan-dong, central Seoul, gives a glimpse into British contemporary art, which combines its long tradition with an experimental twist.
The phrase was used in reference to the 1990s that saw a new cultural wave in the United Kingdom through art, music and fashion. It was further pushed after Tony Blair was elected British prime minister in 1997. This time also saw the emergence of Young British Artists (YBAs) that drew attention from the art world.
Antony Gormley’s “Another Time XIV” (2011) shows the artist exploring the world through his body after casting his body in iron. It is Gormley’s way of communicating with the outside world with his body.
Tracey Emin, the British representative for the 2007 Venice Biennale, presents her signature neon works. Titled “Welcome Always,” the 2008 piece in warm white neon says “Welcome Always What Ever Mood No Matter How Tired I Love You.” Emin takes down the boundaries between her private life and art, including the names of guys she has slept with and rubbish from her room. Her work provides solace by revealing intimate details.
Marc Quinn, known for “shocking” works such as a frozen sculpture of himself of his own blood (“Self”) and a sculpture of a pregnant woman in Trafalgar Square (“Alison Lapper”), offered something smaller but provocative at this Seoul exhibit.
“The Vortex of Desire” and “The Nurseries of El Dorado” are both sculptures of a plant, with the former resembling the shape of female genitals and Quinn expresses human’s desire through it.
Harland Miller’s works excite bookworms. An author and artist, Miller reinterprets covers of Penguin Books and the familiar images are transformed into pop art. He puts popular catch lines from commercials or lyrics on the covers and makes the viewers feel the rhythm when they read these unusual pieces.
Michael Craig-Martin presents “Untitled (at)” and “Untitled (be).” He puts the letters A and B with everyday objects such as umbrellas and metronomes to create a new meaning for them.
Gary Hume works with gloss paint to reproduce pop culture, while Sarah Morris reinterprets certain objects or ideas in geometric patterns. Jason Martin’s solid work “Versuvius (gold)” is filled with dynamism.
The exhibition runs through Aug. 19. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.galleryhyundai.com or call (02) 2287-3500.