Yongsun Yoo

Long Journey For

Yongsun Yoo

Yongsun Yoo paints food. In his works, Yoo serves up an astonishing assortment of foods and table settings, from fast food (e.g., pizza, hot dogs, French fries), to cakes shaped like expensive jewelry or designer bags and shoes, to drinks and sauce bottles bearing the trademarks of luxury cars and products. In some works, salads or pies are prepared with collections of toys and watches. Despite the obvious excessiveness of arranging such items with food, his paintings—with their flat, vibrant colors—always convey a positive and optimistic first impression, much like advertisements or cartoons.

For example, In-Flight Service for First Class Passengers (2019) shows the wide range of “refreshments” being served to first-class passengers on a long-distance flight. Actually, the passengers are inflated sex dolls or anatomy models showing the human muscular system. The serving cart contains an array of miscellaneous items, including bottled drinks labeled with an internet porn site, children’s toys, expensive champagne, and a cheese grater. And even though the seats are printed with the logos of luxury brands, the space between the seats even tighter than in economy class.

The title of this exhibition—Long Journey For—seems like a dedication to those who have willingly embarked on this absurd, uncomfortable journey with no end in sight, all in the hopes of satisfying their desire. The meaning of the artist’s jest is obvious, and it applies equally to everyone living in the current age.

With their thick outlines filled with flat colors, Yongsun Yoo’s works look as if they might have been rendered with illustration tools. They also arouse a fond recollection of Pop Art, especially the works of Roy Lichtenstein. However, with their cutting metaphorical themes and motifs, the scenes in these works are actually quite uncomfortable. A mischievous or antagonistic attitude pervades his paintings on the theme of “food” (and related notions of the “body” or “ingestion”), in which people cook or set a table with inedible or unpalatable items. Moreover, the items are usually too expensive for most people to afford, which is why they are posited as the object of envy or admiration by capitalist society.

In Wake up Mr. Nedo! (2019), a naked person lies diagonally on the floor, covered with cakes, pastries, and other foods that seem to be part of the body itself. On the lone visible hand, the person wears what appears to be an expensive watch and rings. As irony or analogy, this contemporaneous iconography visualizes the insatiable materialist desires, along with the urge to mingle such desires with the body or the act of putting food into the body. Beyond the sensual flamboyance created by the clear composition of beautiful acrylic colors, these scenes function like cynical rap verses, emitting an aura of resonance and absurdity, taking us on a roller coaster ride through dualistic feelings of pleasure and disgust. Perhaps the most interesting element is the way in which this pictorial attitude is eventually eviscerated by intense and sensuous gaze of the artist himself.

Artistic Director Jinsang Yoo

The world is overflowing with moments when I have to prove that I am myself, which makes me question why I have to be myself at every moment. When such questions arise, I head to the place serving the cuisine of Yongsun Yoo. Looking through his unique ingredients, we’re sure to find that all of our desires are already there, that our once hidden desires have been revealed. Look, there’s that car that I’ve been dying to drive!

from “Recipe of an Omniscient Artist” by Daesik Im (director of ARTERTAIN)

Yongsun Yoo
b.1988
Solo Exhibitions
2020

Characterize, ARTERTAIN, Seoul

Jeongnahang Grigo Art Museum Solo Exhibition, Jeongnahang Grigo Art Museum, Samcheok
2019

Organic Ingredients, ARTERTAIN, Seoul

2018

Brand New Menu by NEDO, Seochon Il il, Seoul

Mind-c**king, Salon ARTERTAIN, Seoul
2016

Poker Face, ARTERTAIN Stage, Seoul

Pure Mind, Salon ARTERTAIN, Seoul
Selected Group Exhibitions
2020

Korea International Art Fair, COEX, Seoul

Super Collection, Superior Gallery, Seoul
Golden Triangle, ARTERTAIN, Seoul
Trauma, Ultari Hostel, Seoul
Each & Together, Yo Gallery, Seoul
All Drawings of the World, ARTERTAIN, Seoul
2019

Jeongnahang Grigo Art Museum Opening Exhibition, Jeongnahang Grigo Art Museum, Samcheok

Full of Stars, Yo Gallery, Seoul
Total Support, Total Art Museum, Seoul
Contemporary Art Ruhr, Essen
Yeonhui-dong Art Fair, ARTERTAIN, Seoul
Han-Pyum Art Fair, Yo Gallery, Seoul
Art Busan, BEXCO, Busan
LA Art Show, Los Angeles
2018

Contemporary Art Ruhr, Essen

SeMA Show, Nam-Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul
White Table, Busan Citizens’ Hall, Busan
Pyeongchang Painting Olympia, Pyeongchang
2017

White Table, Blue Square, Seoul

Cheonbyeon Art Fair, Hongje riverside, Seoul
Hongkong Harbour, Hotel Marco Polo, Hong Kong