Seo Young Deok in Capri

August 20 - September 13, 2015 - First solo exhibition in Italy

White Room
Via Vittorio Emanuele, 56
80073 - Capri (NA) - Italy

Opening with the artist: Thursday, August 20, at 19.00

Italy, and in particular the Bay of Naples with Capri, where Seo Young Deok exhibits for the first time, is an important challenge for his sculpture: it is the landing point of a very long conceptual and inspirational journey and, at the same time, it is the place to meet an artistic culture so much different from his native one, but with which Seo Young Deok has started a fruitful relationship.

A young Korean sculptor arrives in the geographical area where the Roman culture met the Greek culture - by laying the foundations to spread the "classical" into the western sculpture and architecture - and, in his works, he proves to be very interested in the (western) classical sculpture, but whose observation and starting points of his model works remain definitely opposite to the western ones.

His first exhibition in Italy, at the White Room in Capri, can be the place to highlight Seo Young Deok's interaction with the (western) classical which, if it may be expected for a western artist like Antony Gormley - to whom the Korean artist has often been compared by critics - must absolutely not be taken for granted for him.

This interaction with the western world seems to be another of the many connections to which the artist alludes by using the chains forming his sculptures. Unlike Gormley, Seo Young Deok uses the "post-production" language, prevalent in those generations born after 1980, as a tool to read and to interpret reality: by repurposing an industrial material such as chains (either standard or bike chains), with a highly skilled assembly technique, he is able to turn them into the basis and material to describe the world.

As Nicolas Bourriad himself maintained - by introducing the concept of "post-production" when speaking of the artistic practice in the 90s - this is the most suitable method to react to the chaos of global culture during the information era. To Seo Young Deok, the connections between chains are a metaphor of the connections between the pieces of information, that - in this century - have been getting greatly complicated due to the endless chaos of possibilities.

He seems to be willing to represent the way in which pieces of information thicken, condense and create shapes that can tell stories... people's stories... "human" stories. The connections between chains and those between pieces of information also refer to the exchanges within the brain circuits.

The contact point with the western classical sculpture is in the ability of his works to tell stories that people can identify themselves with. Classical sculpture can express a very broad range of feelings just by representing the human body; it suffice to observe a classical (Greek, Roman, Renaissance or Baroque, and so on) bust to realize that it is the portion which is able to represent the whole, through emotions or actions that are reflected in the muscle tension of the whole body. The art historian Ernst Gombrich maintained that the starting point of the viewer's identification with the figures portrayed by artists is actually in the muscular response that they inspire to viewers. Also Seo Young Deok inspires such a response in his viewers: his men and his women are all naked as classical sculptures, they express actions and feelings with which the viewer identifies him/ herself. His faceless characters show a deep sadness, a sign of the restless life of people who live in times of high-tech civilization.

The differences between his sculptures and the western classical sculpture lie in the material construction of his figures. Leon Battista Alberti, in his "De Statua" (On Sculpture), the first Renaissance essay to transmit the sculpture techniques used in the past to contemporary generations, speaks of two totally different approaches to sculpture: the one "by adding" and the other "by removing". The first approach, called "plastic", is typically used when sculpting soft materials (clay, wax, plaster and so on); the latter is used when sculpting stones (it is widely known that Michelangelo believed that sculpture "is made by removing" and that "the one made by adding is similar to painting").

On the contrary, Seo Young Deok created a sculpture method (by adding) by using a stiff material that cannot be shaped and does not follow the movements of hands. His great modernity is in this technical feature: his ability to create sculptures that can express the emotional intensity of classical statues by using a material and a technique that are only available in a high-tech society.

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