Expat artists transcend eroticism
The mention of eroticism in a public forum invokes taboo reactions and pornographic connotations from the majority of scrutinizers. This is exactly what a group of artists seeks to transcend with the exhibit Erotic Fantasies at the newly opened Café Blind Spot.
“The best erotic art is subtle, playful and suggestive, rather than obvious and explicit,” said IAC director Richard Beaumont. “It leaves plenty of room for the viewer to complete the fantasy using their own imagination. Erotic art is never deliberately obscene, crude or offensive.”
Eleven expat artists will christen the gallery’s debut into Seoul’s buzzing art scene, exploring eroticism in a tender, appropriate and sophisticated undertone. The International Artists Community (http://koreaiac.com), in association with Blind Spot café present what promises to be an innovative artistic expression.
Café Blind Spot’s owner Jung Yung-nam majored in photography at university and is a professional artist, so opening the café to creative talent was never a particularly complicated decision. “Blind Spot itself contains a meaning of photography and is the name of my favorite photography magazine,” said Jung. “Through this café, I am able to meet a wide range of people like artists and other professions.”
While some cafés seek rising sales and financial ambitions as a driving motivation, Blind Spot says it aspires to produce a relaxing atmosphere for customers to converse about anything in relation to paintings, artwork, fine arts or everyday topics.
The inaugural exhibition’s intentions are “to let artists be known to the world, but mainly any artists who are not known or famous in public could be introduced through our café. There are many who are amateurs, but close enough to becoming professionals, so their works are to be exhibited at our café,” said Jung.
Participating artists said they’re excited to produce artwork that is not only conceptually challenging but socially challenging. As sex increasingly sells, exploiting the exact suspicions and suppressed emotions intimidating society, the exhibition’s timing is a “relevant and appropriate theme for a group that seeks to highlight important issues related to the massive social changes taking place in Korea,” said Jung.
Beaumont is a self-described traveler who uses art as a means of interpretating and charting his journeys. “The theme for the IAC’s latest group exhibition Erotic Fantasies is different from other themes that the group has addressed in that it calls on participating artists to look within themselves for their inspiration and specifically to examine their own sexual fantasies and drives.”
Highlighting the personal relationship with the exhibition’s theme — the erotic and exotic — creates an environment he hopes will “stimulate valuable dialogue and debate around the often taboo topic of eroticism and sexual expression in today’s frantically dynamic Korean society, as well as being fun for artist and audience alike.” A collection of paintings depicting the human body as an attractive rendition of natural beauty whilst returning to its once-naked and innate form will be presented.
Hailing from Kentucky’s rolling bluegrass hills in the United States, Elizabeth Groeschen is a photographer who sometimes flees from the confines of a lens to dabble in mixed media and video art, recently combining two realms by tap dancing in paint to create unique artforms. Showcasing photographs with undefined context — leaving the viewer to create their own scenario and caption correlating to the photo — forces one to investigate and solve a certain dilemma in her works.
A university English professor by day and painter by night, Canadian Alexandra Beneteau tries to live her life as honestly and productively as humanly possible, while remaining true to her self, ideals, and principles. She said she is a firm believer in following her aspiring ambitions. She lives by the particularly moving Oscar Wilde quote: “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter. The sitter is merely an accident, an occasion. It is rather the painter, who, on the coloured canvas reveals himself.” Beneteau has worked frequently with acrylics since arriving in Korea, but prefers oil paints as a favored tool-of-the-trade.
Attracted by the natural eroticism and exoticism contained by the human figure, she has especially been swayed and intrigued with the pregnant form. “In its fullness and roundness, it evokes feelings of sensual pleasure and soft comfort,” said Beneteau. “The pregnant female figure, to my mind, is not only one of the most exotic sights in the natural world, but one that is relatable to almost every person in the world. It transcends boundaries of time, space and place. It evokes a sense of lust in some and longing in others. It is primordial and also alien and to this question of familiar strangeness is what I would like to speak in this exhibition.”
With captivating creativity, Venezuelan photographer José Antonio Nigro possesses a strong interest for colors, forms, shapes and textures. As a documentary photographer, his works “normally happen by being at the right place at the right time,” he said.
“For this exhibition, I am taking control of the situation, working close and intimately with the human body, exploring different sides of human sexuality, transmitting a message far from conventional,” Nigro added. With a series of photographs depicting sexual fetishes, the shots are certain to invoke discussions and exchanges of eroticism, exoticism and social acceptance — key aims proposed by this challenging presentation.
American Mike Stewart, a residing artist and transformed Seoulite for nine years, has crossed paths with endeavors to open his own art academy in the near future servicing the creative minds so prevalent in Korea’s cultural society.
A printmaker by trade, Stewart has wandered outside his natural comfort zone for this exhibit, completing works via mixed media drawings based upon two live model drawing. “They are from ‘Fetish Sketch Nights’ that have the model posing in provocative costumes, further challenging us as artists to defend ourselves against criticism about using the nude as subject matter.” The drawings create depth in combination with shading to showcase the centerpiece to the viewer in the forefront, while using a simple background to create the depth and focal point.
Erotic Fantasies challenges to be a unique exhibition, confronting exiled issues such as eroticism and exoticism. It runs until Dec. 17 at Café Blind Spot.
To get to Blind Spot, go to Sangsu Station, Line 6, Exit 4. Walk straight for 50 meters and you will see the café on the left.