6 Oct 2011 — 6 Nov 2011

 Donghyun Son's page
Donghyun Son

Gallery 2 presents an exhibition by Donghyun Son, an artist who has begun to gain attention for his unique brand of painting; a practice that brings together the techniques and compositional strategies of traditional Eastern painting with an engagement in subjects located in modern mass media culture. This exhibition features more than 20 portraits that depict various villains from the James Bond films, as well as a calligraphic painting presenting a concentrated form of the exhibition theme.

Villains from James Bond films Brought to life in Traditional Portraits
Son has developed an approach to painting that combines a variety of Eastern painting styles (such as sansui painting, portraiture and calligraphic painting) with subjects from mass culture (such as film, music and animation). For this body of work, Son has turned his attention to the James Bond films, a popular Hollywood movie franchise that has been running now for almost half a century. Son developed an interest in the role that the villains played in these movies. In contrast to the fixed role of the main character, the number of actors that played villains in these films represents a broad ethnic and cultural diversity, an idea that Son took as the central part of his work. The works exhibited here take as their subjects the arch-villains appearing in the twenty films made from 1962 (when the 007 series began) until 2002.

Realistic representations of fictional figures
Of the more than twenty villains depicted here in the style of Eastern painting, each and every one has their own distinctive character. This sense of character was made possible through the artist’s thorough analysis of each villain, examining critique of the films and the attributes of the actual actors’ personalities. Even though they are imaginary figures living only within the fictions of the films, they are brought to life with the use of the ‘JeonShinSaJo 傳神寫照’ technique, which involves in-depth study of a figure’s internal and external identities in the process of depicting them as they truly are. For this reason, every element that appears in a painting needs to be extremely well considered. The portraits include not only their costumes, pedestal bases and props in their hands, but also their facial expressions and even their postures, as they serve as critical symbols on the canvas.

Typology of villains demonstrated through ‘series’
Son began to develop the current direction of his practice around the time of his 2008 exhibition entitled ‘King’, which featured a series of works chronicling Michael Jackson’s life. This upcoming exhibition demonstrates the different kinds of fear that have existed in different eras, in the way that the artist traces the shifts in the kinds of villain that have appeared over the last four decades. For instance, during the early part of the Cold War they generally are seen wearing Communist military uniforms and turn into insane billionaires or media tycoons. Regardless of the flow in time however, characters such as an African American drug lord and North Korean soldiers represent something of a fixed notion that the West has towards different races and cultures. It is also notable that the James Bond films created stereotypes of villains that began to surface in other films, such as the depiction of a boss shrouded in darkness, petting a cat on a rocking chair. Overall, it can be seen that the artist intentions might be to depict portraits of villains who dominate both the realms of the real and the unreal within our modern society.
The Ring
Ink and color on paper
Ø60 cm