Bae Yoon Hwan: What? In My Back Yard?! 29 June–30 July 2022 Gallery Baton 116, Dokseodang-ro Yongsan-gu Seoul, 04420 South Korea
What? In My Back Yard?!, a solo exhibition by Bae Yoon Hwan from 29 June to 30 July. Bae Yoon Hwan, who has been moving toward a new level of his own practice exploring the identity and possibility of painting by presenting figures and experiences acquired from various sources into pictorial storytelling, features new paintings made over past years through his second solo exhibition at Galley Baton.
Considering the current artistic process, Bae Yoon Hwan, who is in his early 40s, seems to be somewhere in the middle of his journey to devote himself and achievements as an artist. However, those who have seen his thirties closely also remember his manner of bold, imposing and experimental striving to probe the limits of his physical strength and spirit at every moment, and the results.
In Road to Studio B (2018), a commission of the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA), is a stop motion animated video that combines drawing, small-scale installation and clay of 11:40 duration. Bae finished this work by himself, dedicating more than half a year alone, encompassing drawings, sculpture, painting and filming each cut to create the video. In addition to the appreciation of watching the unpredictable storytelling of various groups, it invites viewers to feel fascination of the desire for the aesthetic pursuit as an artist and his dedication to feature his hybrid practice.
Prior to that, it is necessary to highlight the exhibition at Insa Art Space (2014), which is the beginning of establishing Bae’s artistic practice in the same context. WAS IT A CAT I SAW (2014) is a large-scale painting with a width of 50 meters, 2.2 meters high. (Considering its massive scale, it is one of masterpieces in the history of modern Korean art.) The work, which was completed by repeatedly spreading it out in meters in a tiny studio, was presented fully filled the wall of the exhibition space of a single level and more than half of the painting were still wrapped in a roll. Apart from its overwhelming size, the 50-meter masterpiece brought viewers an idea of his persistence as an artist in details and also introduced the massive world of his imagination as a source of creation.
Bae kept an experimental spirit in the age of mass media, identified the meaning of each incidents and images that had been exposed to him indefinitely, and devoted himself to selective collection. This exhibition is the mark of recent attempts to build a refined collective narration on the canvas. Referencing the NIMBY phenomenon, the exhibition title, What? In My Back Yard?! is an exclamation that reflects one of the characteristics of modern society, which reminds us that the works presented in this exhibition issues social incidents or global phenomena.
However, scenes featuring personified animals and depicting them humorously are designed to lower the seriousness of veiled references in the painting could give, or to keep universal pictorial purity against them. Bae’s skilful technique of finely placing the necessary images and narratives under the layout and shade of each paintings provides a place where engaged themes could coexist secretly on the behind of the work, which is seemingly Aesop-style presentation.
In Lullaby for Fangs (2022), tired-looking wolf and ridiculously dressed busy rabbits, reveals the other side of animals population control in the United States and Australia. Rabbits, who have flourished in Australia under more than a hundred-year population control policy, helping wolf by consulting their own manners are vividly expressed are in colours as the wolf has suddenly become the official target of the U.S. government. Through the dramatic contrast between rabbits on rocks crossing the canvas diagonally and wolf curled up to sleep at the bottom left side, it indirectly shows that the progress of incidents over different spans of time and spaces goes against the ecological hierarchy of the two and implies their new relationship