Variations of Communication as Represented through Anonymous Graffiti


Sumin Lee, Assistant Curator of SOMA


It was a long time ago that art aimed to represent something. Contemporary art focuses on making the visible appear rather than just representing it. In other words, art is not meant to gain objecthood of a thing. Accordingly, an artist hopes to secure his or her identity not from representing something, but rather from an artwork itself. This seems to form the basis for the fact that today’s art puts an emphasis on creativity. This may mean that art prioritizes its purpose rather than any relation with society. To affirm this, it means contemporary art tries to find its own autonomy in a work of art. All the same, the objective fact is that art cannot be completely separate from society in that its content rests on empirical reality. All works of art contain some sort of experienced world in some way or another.


Art has autonomy and rejects social reality, but as times it draws a realistic impetus into it in terms of its negative relationships. When trying to understand his sketches bases on such a view, one has to consider social relationships. He frequently crosses the border between time and space in order to communicate with cosiety in his own way. He says that he focuses on documenting graffiti on the walls of buildings while out on the city streets but is busy preparing to communicate with others while in his studio. He ventures our into the streets around the time when a calm is settling over it, hiding his identity behind a mask. It is as if he is playing Stanley in the film The Mask who makes all kinds of commotion when he dons a mask and gains superhuman powers from it. To him, a street is both a studio and a place for communication. He portrays to showcase his intent to sensuously deepen his breath with the public, almost as if overlapping music with fast beats, rap unique to hip-hop culture, and a dance with a pulsating rhythm characteristic of black culture. In addition, his work enables us to recall the historicity of discrimination and alienation hat exist behind such cultural phenomena. Nevertheless, the ways in which he works are so diverse that we need more than just a critical approach to his work.


His work seems to be in strained relations because it is always trying to cross restricted areas: he works anonymously while using a public arena to exhibit his works as opposed to a determined location; every exhibition plan is always newly formulated; and he rejects daily routines. His works make viewers tense because of these practices. His way of working also arouses tension. He privately draws images in the streets or on canvases while hiding his identity to avoid being seen by street goers. Acts of leaving unknown tags in the streets and spraying graffiti on walls with inattention seem to be provoking a quarrel with established art. He adds graffiti to the streets in his own style as a way of communicating with external society, making viewers tense, and endlessly bringing about changes.


He has mentioned that he wants to draw pictures that are easy for the public to understand. His firm assertion is that art and work of art should be thing that can easily communicate with people or be talked about with ease. It is perhaps for this reason that he aims for art that can communicate in the streets. The tag that he uses is a sign of communication. Since he feels sorry for those who are afrid of approaching works of art, he makes sure that his graffiti starts in the streets on walls that nobody pays attention to. His graffiti seems to express what he has to say, what he can say as a young man and citizen living in the present in this country, and the freedom in his consciousness toward criticism and negation.


Particularly noteworthy is that his works are consistently in a monotone. It is said he chose gray thin pulp paper for his wall pictures dues to its not showy and deep material property. So, his works arouse an Oriental atmosphere as if be expressed in ink-wash painting. Some of his works bring idea came from colors in some signboards. This fact indicates that his art pursues communication with both people and society.


We wonder how his works can make us feel tense since they are on show in an internal exhibit space instead of out on an external street. Given how they are being displayed inside an exhibit space, we expect that his works will bring a transformation to the horizon of graffiti. Since his creations are mostly made in outer public arenas based on the premise of anonymity, he is now concerned about the possibility of such anonymity being at risk. Although moving the venue for his works might pose a new challenge, he is afraid that his unrestricted way of expression might be restricted.


Viewers can look forward to receiving a fresh shock from paradoxical aesthetics of variations in communication thanks to his artistic ability to transform a connotative space into an aesthetic sphere through this exhibition which is set to unfurl in a restricted space.