The Blade Factory, Greenland Street (20th September - 30th November 2008)
The notes accompanying this group show by seven Korean artists promises it 'addresses the alienating effect on audiences of transposing ideas generated in one culture onto another.' That seems like artist-speak for, 'You might not understand this, because some of the Korean references will probably get lost in translation'. However, while cultural references are still geographically restricted to a certain extent - though the globalising economy is daily breaking down the barriers - they are all, in the final analysis, expressions of needs and desires common to all humanity. So long as art engages with those needs and desires, people all over the world can appreciate and enjoy it. This is the case with the often surreal Fantasy Studio Project, and the effect is heightened by the high level of technical skill on show.
Hyun-Mi Yoo's work is mind-bogglingly ingenious, and stunning to look at. By painting onto physical space, inserting objects in unfamiliar places, and then photographing the result, she creates two dimensional 'still life installations', such as Great Earth (about a dozen globes heaped in a corner), Peach (a provocatively placed pair of peaches) and Stone Clouds (above).
Yongbaek Lee's art is also beautifully done if slightly unnerving. His Broken Through appears to be a giant mirror in an elaborate golden frame, but as I stood in front of it trying to flatten my hair, it 'smashed'. Was it something I did? Apparently not, because it recovered itself before smashing again when a woman walked past a minute later. The massive Angel Soldiers initially seemed to be a display of flowers, but when my eyes adjusted themselves, I made out some male figures ever so slowly creeping their way across, camouflaged in flowers. Just as well for them I didn't have a gun, and we weren't in a war situation. Except, of course, we are...
Yeondoo Jung's portraits are slightly more traditional fare, but no less impressive for that. After all, he has created believable renderings of characters he's encountered on his travels, with such imprecise instruments as needle and thread!
Though I surely missed some cultural references, I still found this exhibition very absorbing, which stands in stark contrast to that of my compatriots in the Bloomberg New Contemporaries downstairs. Some things are more important than the set of imaginary lines we were born within.