Rambling Views of City Simulacre

Critique on the Works of Ki-Dong Kwon

Rambling Views of City Simulacre - Critique on the Works of Ki Dong Kwon



Among the representative examples of simulacre are amusement parks, art museums and wedding halls. They well express the diversity and heterogeneity of post-modernism. Virtual reality now digs into the city and its functions as a spatial-sociological index. The simulacre of amusement parks may be understood better through the movie Shrek. The space within the film is like an extended form of Disney Land. By paying the admission fee, one may be treated like a princess or a prince in a picturesque castle, and with a small extra charge may become a pirate of the Caribbean. In that moment, people can forget about their overdue debts and troublesome family affairs. Even better, one may become a princess in a wedding hall. Veneration and admiration for the princess are provided, as the bride wears such simulacre as well. The art museum is no exception in this context. Works of art are finally recognized in terms of their identity, or value as commodities in museums of art. But the spaces and ideas of the art museum cleverly aestheticize the situation into a form of protocol. In the art museum, works become objects of worship. Kwon's works lend a critical perspective to this point. They make us realize how abrupt they (the works of art) are "there." This abruptness is an allegory of the artist's viewpoint, which is cynical towards the endlessly changing world, but also contains hysterical substance. The sight of a UFO floating above the Gwanghwamoon Blvd. is no big deal in our eyes, which are used to virtual reality.


The artist, however, always looks at the uncomfortable side of "actual" virtual reality. Thus, the representative simulacre of the city he paints seem turbulent and unstable. Fabricated Roman landmarks, such as the Trevi Fountain at Lotte Department Store, present a unique aura that is unapproachable no matter how close you go. The virtual should maintain a safe distance from physical touch, but Kwon's objects provide such distance even as they are isolated. The distance between the objects that concretize the isolation and the appreciators is also the valid distance of worship, set up as a shield by the simulacre. Such distance must be maintained if the simulacre is to become an object of worship as if it had an aura behind it. While representing such distance, Kwon Ki-Dong also implies or elucidates, through his peculiar work method, that such spacing is meaningless.


On a previous occasion I defined Kwon's paintings as "hardboiled landscapes." I used the expression to describe his violent gaze. I believe that the definition is still valid, but I can also read some changes. The violent gaze upon the tiresome reality now has become cynical. This means that the violence in the gaze seems to have decreased. But his on-edge, bitter manner of speech remains the same. Perhaps lyricism or tragedy seems luxurious to him. At the center of his work is the traditional method of oil painting. The stimulating contrasts of color and brightness, which at a glance resemble kitsch paintings or movie theater signboards, and the abrupt vividness and overused sfumato technique may cause Kwon's works to appear cheap. But when we recognize this cheap appearance as a strategy to approximate the simulacre, the impression of lightness of the work method dissolves at once. Furthermore, considering that his surfaces are composed by adherence to oil painting, and that they are as thick as the amount of time the artist spent contemplating, one realizes that his paintings are by no means simple or cheap hyper-realistic. Finally, I suggest that viewers carefully observe these surfaces. I believe that only when we can read the history and significance left there, can we get the ultimate answer about the painted theme.


Kim, Jung Rak

(Art Historian, Head Curator of the Kim Chong Yung Sculpture Museum)








M.F.A. the Pennsylvania State University-University Park

B.F.A. College of Fine Arts, Seoul National University



Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Art Bank, National Museum of Contemporary Art

Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art


2019 Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation

2018 Arts Council Korea

2017 Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation

2012 Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture

2009 Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture


2019 Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Lumsden, UK

2018 Kunstort-ELEVEN-Artspace, Starzach-Borstingen, Germany(supported by Arts Council Korea)

2015 Art Hub International Artist Residency, AZ, USA


2013 Young Teac Park, Highway at 8AM-Ki Dong Kwon’s 8AM, Haru, Gisikchannel

2007 Young Teac Park, Exhibition Review-Ki Dong Kwon, Art in Culture, June

2007 Ji Young Kim, Spread of the reality-7 cityscape painters, Art & Museum Studies Vol. 18, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

2004 Liliana M. Naydan, Fleeting Moments, Research Penn State



2018 Banjul-Schale, Seoul

2017 Gallery Godo, Seoul

2015 Gallery into the Soul, Seoul2

2014  Tong-In Auction Gallery, Seoul

2013  Gallery 41, Seoul

2012  Grimson Gallery, Seoul (supported by Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture)

2009  Kimjinhye Gallery, Seoul (supported by Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture)

2007  SADI Window Gallery&Kimjinhye Gallery, Seoul

2005  Kimjinhye Gallery, Seoul

2004  Zoller Gallery, Penn State University-University Park

2000  Indeco Gallery, Seoul

1998  Gallery Icon, Seoul



2018 On Air, Glasshalle-Landratsamt Tubingen, Germany

          ACAF 2018, Seoul Arts Center Hangaram Arts Museum, Seoul

2017 Inside Out, Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan

          Spirit of Painting-Answer to the 30 years, Dongduk Art Gallery, Seoul

2016 Six Perspectives Looking at the Landscape, Muan Seungwoo Oh Museum of Art

          Represented: Namwon , Suji Museum, Namwon

2015  Korea-China, Qingdao City Museum of Art, Qingdao, China

           Gwanghwamun International Art Festival, Sejong Museum of Art, Seoul

2014  The Artists, Gallery Art in Space, New York

           Early Winter, Gyeom Jae Jeong Sun Museum, Seoul

           Space In Space Out, Gallery Misulsegye, Seoul (Supported by Ministry of Health & Welfare)

           Museum Image, Dongduk Art Gallery, Seoul

           One Stroke, KwaeYeon Jae Ceramic Museum, Youngwol

2013  Scene, KwaeYeon Jae Ceramic Museum, Youngwol

           KIAF-Korea International Art Fair, COEX, Seoul

2012  Sovereign Asian Art Prize, Sovereign Art Foundation, Hong Kong

           Contemporary Artists, Dongduk Art Gallery, Seoul

           Cotton-Born to Live Twice, Dongduk Museum of Art, Seoul

2011  Korean Art Today, Korean Cultural Office, Sydney, Australia

           Along with Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Biddle Gallery, Bundang

2010  KIAF-Korea International Art Fair, COEX, Seoul

           Five Stories, Biddle Gallery, Bundang

          100 years of Dongduk, Dongduk Art Gallery, Seoul

2009  Spirit of Korea, Alliance Francaise, Victoria City, Seychelles

           Another Masterpiece, Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan

           Wonderful Pictures, Ilmin Museum of Art, Seoul

           KIAF-Korea International Art Fair, COEX, Seoul

           Seoul Art Fair, BEXCO, Busan

2008  KIAF-Korea International Art Fair, COEX, Seoul

           Cityscape, Grimson Gallery, Seoul

2007  Sovereign Asian Art Prize, Sovereign Art Foundation, Hong Kong

          The Spirit of Travel, Sovereign Art Foundation, Hong Kong

2006  Sovereign Asian Art Prize, Sovereign Art Foundation, Hong Kong

           Purple Cake, Shinsegae Culture Hall, Seoul

2003  Menagerie, Zoller Gallery, Penn State University-University Park

2001  The 16th Asian International Art Exhibition, Guangdong Museum of Art, China

           ‘Foundations-Perspectives’, Musee de Seoul, Seoul

           KwangJu Biennale Special Exhibition-Forest of Human, Forest of Painting

2000  The 15th Asian International Art Exhibition, Tainan County Cultural Affair Burean, Taiwan

1999  The 14th Asian International Art Exhibition, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan

1998  ‘Retina & Sensory’, Dongah Gallery, Seoul

1997  ‘Wind of Seoul’, Indeco Gallery, Seoul

          The Abstract-The real-The Abstract’, Gallery Wooduk, Seoul

          The 42th Chang-Jark Fine Art Association, Seoul Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seoul

1994  ‘Painting in New Media Era’, Seoho Gallery, Seoul

1989  International Contemporary Art Festival in Berlin, Artrium Gallery, Berlin