The Disturbing Sculptures of Dongwook
" Love Me Sweet"Arrario Gallery Seoul samcheong, Korea 2012
Dongwook Lee’s works focus on the contradictions that are fundamentally inherent in human existence and life. Exquisitely hyper-realistic and surrealistically imagined renditions of his miniature human figures are staged in absurd situations in Lee’s works, in which the bleak everyday life transforms into poetic horror. In Lee’s work, a fragile warrior is wearing his own flesh as his armor, and the naked child stands with innocent face in front of blood-stained killing (which he might have committed). His oeuvre stands at an odd intersection of life and death, beauty and cruelty, civilization and wild, and reality and fantasy, unfolding a world of fantasy where people are severed from reality.
Harry Clarke. Illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination. 1919.
Sometimes, and it happens very rarely, something spectacular from our collective history clashes dramatically with a piece of nuanced pop culture. Today, one of these fantastic things came to us in the form of this collection of viral images.
Miriam Elia, We Go To The Gallery.
THE DAILY PIC: This is the trace of Marcel Duchamp’s heartbeat, recorded 48 years ago today by a doctor named Brian O’Doherty, better known by far as a critic and conceptual artist (often under the pseudonym Patrick Ireland, assumed in honor of his homeland’s struggles with England). The heartbeat is on display in a lovely little survey of some of O’Doherty’s output, shared between Simone Subal gallery in New York and a nearby gallery called “P!”
Duchamp’s EKG is one element in what went on to become O’Doherty’s 16-part “portrait” of the great Dada artist, which also includes a kinetic light sculpture that seems to reproduce the oscillograph trace of Duchamp’s heart actually beating. (That piece is also at Subal’s). And the composite portrait is evidence of a precariously balanced love-hate relationship that O’Doherty had with its subject – the relationship all ambitious artists have with their most important forerunner.
Duchamp once said that “after twenty years [artworks] are finished. Their life is over. They survive all right, because they are part of art history, and art history is not art. I don’t believe in preserving, I think as I said that a work of art dies.” In his portrait, O’Doherty self-consciously set out to prove Duchamp wrong, by making a piece that would keep the Frenchman’s presence and legacy – and heartbeat – “alive” wherever and whenever the portrait is shown. “I’ve made Duchamp live 250 years; It’s very cruel, but he deserved it,” O’Doherty told me after a talk that he gave at Subal’s. But of course O’Doherty’s cruelty is also a gesture of absolute homage, from O’Doherty to a genius – and a friend – upon whom he wished endless life.
It has often been said that a fine portrait confers as much immortality on its maker as on its sitter. But the question here is whether we are contemplating a portrait of Duchamp or by him – drawn in fact with each beat of his heart. We sometimes come across someone whom we bill as an artist through and through, in every fiber of their body, and maybe here we’re seeing Duchamp prove that he’s one. (Image – margins cropped for clarity – is courtesy the artist, P! and Simone Subal Gallery)
Interesting to think about in the context of The Art Assignment Episode 4: Never Seen, Never Will. A beating heart. In particular, the beating heart of one of the greatest artists.
I haven’t taken a bubble bath in ages.