Here is the complete documentation of my solo exhibition installation at Miboo Art Center, Busan. The show occupies two floors. Photography and editing by master photographer and digital wizard Brian Sunghun Park.
Show ends August 30, 2019.
To enlarge right click on image and open in a new tab.
THIRD FLOOR GALLERY
SECOND FLOOR GALLERY
This and next two images:
DRAW, YOU FUCKER! 2019 Acrylic and marker on found, partially melted, plastic file cabinet, 33 X 30 X 35 cm
PARACHUTE BRICK-DROP 2019 Brick, bicycle hub and spokes, steel can, 86 X 23 X 23 cm
HELICOPTER (loosely based on Boeing Apache) 2019, vacuum cleaner, wooden window blind blades, metal 41 X 113 X 77 cm
TWO SQUID 2018 Acrylic on drawing paper pad spines and paper Each squid approximately 153 cm long
THREE HONEYBEE HEADS 2015 Office chair parts. Each head 41 X 49 X 54 cm.
SINKING LIFE BOAT 2019 Acrylic and marker on rubberized floor tile section. The ‘water’ pattern preexisting in the material. 45 x 70 cm.
WALKING MAN 2019 Acrylic and marker on rubberized floor tile section. The ‘sky’ and ‘reflective water surface’ preexisting in the material. 74 X 116 cm.
HEAD WITH HAT 2018 Acrylic on wood, with chair sections, PVC, metal, electrical chord. 42 x 58 X 122 cm.
EL GORDO DUCHAMPO (title by Brian Sullivan) 2019 Wood, children’s bicycle wheel, children’s stool. 69 x 31 X 31 cm.
DAMSELFLY HEAD 2019 Honeybee hive panels, car lamps, car logo, car grills, fallen cat whiskers, mannequin scalp, acrylic. 50 x 150 X 97 cm.
The show at Miboo Art Center (미부 아트센터) in Busan, runs until August 30. It includes all the new 2019 paintings from SIMPLEXITY, as well as the best that I have created here in Korea over the last four years. The work occupies two vast gallery spaces on two floors.
This new 2019 set of paintings, collectively titled SIMPLEXITY, was created over the last 6 months here in South Korea, where I relocated from New York City almost five years ago. I did not invent the word ‘Simplexity’, as it can be found in abundance on the internet. But I felt the word fit with what I am doing now, which can be open to many interpretations, just like the word itself.
Nature is and always has been my inspiration, and many of the new works are an expression of rage and sorrow at what we are doing to our Earth. But rather than just add more heat to to the cauldron of rage to be found everywhere, I approached it in my usual dark, creative humor, seeing it all as fundamental shapes to be played with, and finding clarity in the process. This is the only way I know how to deal with the the barrage of bad news I try not to read. Without the ability to paint it away, I myself would just slip away.
All the new paintings, in addition to the best that I have created over the last years in Korea, including 3D works, is now on display in a sprawling two-floor retrospective at Miboo Art Center in Busan. The exhibition runs until August 30.
To see the horizontal images at correct scale please open them in a new tab.
I needed to get some US documents notarized so I made an appointment at the American Embassy for today. I took no pics, while waiting outside, feeling anxious as the police watched me, thinking they might think I am casing the joint. It was a bleak, but warm day.
The building is as drab-as-drab-could-be. Plus ugly. In addition to a high cement wall with concertina wire and surveillance cameras, the complex is shielded on 2 sides by giant police buses, parked bumper-to-bumper, with Korean police stationed every half-a-bus. No suicide driver will ever get very deep here.
At 1:09 I entered early for my 1:30 appointment through a blast proof door, when prompted. I relinquished my phone, after told to turn it off.
Inside is a drab lobby that could be a shitty hospital in Anywhere USA, with drab hospital-blue walls, and a sagging, yellowed drop ceiling, some tiles replaced with shiny white new ones. The carpeting was hideous. You rarely see carpeting in public spaces in Korea. A faux colonial ceiling fan listed badly to the right. Shitty carpentry was to be found everywhere, if you are the kind of person that looks for that sort of thing. When my number was called and I waited in front of the blast proof teller’s window, I noticed clumsy attempts to cover up fuck-ups in the details. I noticed similar transgressions at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Grand Central Station in New York.
One of my documents needed to be signed by a witness of a witness, so I asked an American serviceman waiting with his wife and child, and he signed for me. As I was leaving I thanked him for the second time. I was anxious to get out of there and in my haste, as I was packing my bag, I accidentally yanked out a piece of fake plastic grass that hemmed in the waiting area in high boxes. I picked up the plastic ‘seedling’ and replanted it in the plastic bed as the Korean guard nervously watched me, and I got the hell out of there.
It’s as if a spaceship came and transplanted a slab of Americana in East Asia, and protected it well. The tellers behind that impenetrable glass were nice to me, and they felt familiar. I was on the outside of their bomb proof box, looking in at my own country, inside a bomb proof building in another country. And it felt like home.
A wonderful afternoon opening reception for INSIDE THE BOX here in SK. It was great to see people interacting with these things that I have been dancing with for over 7 months. The fourth dimension of creativity- your audience.
Here is the release that I wrote for my solo painting exhibition.
GALLERY ART AND ART
PAUL FORTUNATO: INSIDE THE BOX
September 8 to 19, 2018
6 Daeheung-ro 121 buen-gil, Jung-gu, Daejeon, Republic of Korea
Gallery Art And Art, a private art gallery, is pleased to present ‘Inside The Box’, a solo exhibition of paintings by American expat Paul Fortunato (b. 1962). The exhibition will showcase 19 new works from the series ‘Fork This Side: Inside The Box’ by the artist completed over the last 7 months.
The exhibition title is multi- layered. Paul Fortunato has been living in South Korea since 2015. The works combine fantasy and anecdotal narratives, with references to American and foreign films and music. The ‘box’ refers to having created this set of mostly large scale paintings in a very small room, an implosion of sorts. His former studio in Ossining, New York was an immense space with 23 foot ceilings. Here in Korea he works in a room a mere fraction of that size.
The informed work combines darkness, shock, beauty, humor, sexuality, weirdness, and commentary on the state of the world. Titles are often literal and visual puns.
‘Putto Down’ expresses feelings of disorientation, and of bearing witness to the ‘soul clipping’ in Asian society, a kind of glass box that is clear from the inside, and opaque from the outside. ‘The Next Emperor’, a play on the title and movie poster of the 1987 Bernardo Bertolucci film ‘The Last Emperor’, further addresses the clipping, in addition to ultra consumerism and the male obsession with power.
On a formal level ‘box’ refers to six of the works having been executed on found crate panels, which have built-in, rugged, air-nailed frames, ready for hanging.
The box also refers to the artist’s feelings of isolation and culture shock associated with a new life overseas, and seeing America from a completely different perspective. It is a box turned inside out, myopic, many of its residents only willing to look in, and yet, just another box in the world, quickly losing what it had.
The box refers to his becoming a ‘bubble expat’, who has not-so-quietly retreated to the box between his two ears, focusing his creative powers like never before.
The subject matter flows from his imagination. There are some overt references to American cinema. ‘Wizard of the Apes’, is a mash-up of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Planet of the Apes’ and it encapsulates the theme of the show. The artist (Dorothy) is surrounded by mutant ape/Oz characters. A chimp/Picasso ghost, lurking in the cape of the Wicked Witch and holding his cigarette with her green hand, looks down at Dorothy with contempt as s(he) gives him the brush-off.
‘Son of Kong’, the title from the original 1933 film by Willis O’Brien, is a haunting political statement about racism in America. Here the white ape protagonist effortlessly mutilates and hurls KKK rally figures through space with his magic ‘ET’ finger.
‘Beggars’ Banquet’, after the Rolling Stones album title, is a visceral statement about the crisis of democracy now unfolding in the USA.
Paul is deeply passionate and troubled by the environmental degradation facing our planet, and he grapples with those concerns in the best way he can, through painting. His love of nature finds its way into his art, no matter how dark the image. There is no mercy in it for the fools who destroy our world and its wildlife.
Environmental statements can also be read in ‘Revenge of the Game 2’, inspired by the brontosaurus sequence in ‘King Kong’(1933), ‘Revenge of the Game’ and ‘Flipper’.
‘Inside the Box’ pushes back on the encroaching ‘digital desert’ where he finds himself living, a place with the fastest internet speed in the world, but where there is little regard for the hard copy, much less painting.
Paul Fortunato was born in Flushing, New York. He received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1994. He taught drawing and painting at SVA for 23 years before taking a professorship at Hanbat National University in Korea, teaching drawing. He has exhibited in numerous group shows in the States and abroad, and has had three solo exhibitions. This latest one is his first overseas solo painting exhibition. He is the recipient of several significant awards, including The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, MacDowell Colony, and the National Academy of Design.
PUTTI DOWN, acrylic on crate panel, 131.5 X 77.5 cm, 52 X 31 inches
ANOTHER PUTTI DOWN, acrylic on wood, 120 X 152 cm, 47 X 60 inches
CUPID’S LAST ARROW, acrylic on wood, 120 X 203.5 cm, 47.25 X 80 inches
“VICTORIA EDWARDS, MEAT THE DUNG BEATLES”, acrylic on wood, 120 X 203.5 cm, 47.25 X 80 inches
GONE WITH THE GUST, acrylic on wood, 123 X 88.4 cm, 47.5 X 88.4 inches
WIZARD OF THE APES, acrylic on crate panel, 80 X 129 cm, 31.5 X 51 inches
“WHAT IS IT?” acrylic on wood, 116 X 137 cm, 45.7 X 54 inches
THE DEATH OF SHITTY-VACUUM SWINGER, acrylic on wood, 119 X 118.5 cm, 47.25 x 46.5 inches
ATTACK OF THE DOG-EATING MUREX, acrylic on crate panel, 109 x 94.5 cm, 43 X 37 inches
BLUE CHRIST PAINTS HIMSELF WITH HIS TONGUE, acrylic on masonite, 55X 36.5 cm, 21.6 X 14 inches
SANTA CLAWS 2, acrylic on wood, 120 X 203 cm, 47.25 X 80 inches
PLESIOSAUR FREE STYLING IT, acrylic on wood, 203 X 120 cm, 80 X 47.25 inches
GIRL AT NIGHT, acrylic on crate panel, 80 X 129 cm, 31.5 X 51 inches
HEAD, acrylic on wood, 132 X 97 cm, 52 X 38 inches
WALKING TALL, acrylic on wood, 209.7 X 89.5 cm, 83 X 35.5 inches
ARCTIC LACEWING CAT, acrylic on wood, 61 X 62 cm, 24 X 24.4 inches
FLIPPER, acrylic on pink foam insulation board, 182 X 70 X 8 cm, 71.7 X 27.5 X 3 inches
CYCLOPEAN CAT MAMMOTH, acrylic on wood, 79 X 132 cm, 31 x 52 inches
THE NEXT EMPEROR, acrylic and auto wheel caps on crate panel, 94 X 74 cm, 37 X 29 inches
BEGGARS’ BANQUET, acrylic on masonite, 40 x 56 cm, 15.7 X 22 inches
LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE, acrylic on wood, 51.5 X 80 cm, 20 X 31.5 inches
SON OF KONG, acrylic on wood, 54 X 78 cm, 25 X 31 inches
RINGED OCTOPUS, acrylic on framed masonite panel, 42 X 63 cm, 16.5 X 25 inches
REVENGE OF THE GAME 2, acrylic on wood, 203 X 120 cm, 80 X 47.25 inches
REVENGE OF THE GAME, acrylic on crate panel, 165 X 153.5 cm, 65 X 60.4 inches
DIGITAL FUTURE, acrylic on framed, mounted Korean calligraphy on mulberry paper, 62 X 43 cm, 24.4 X 17 inches
The concept of “INSIDE THE BOX” is multi-dimensional and layered. It is about working on found crate panels, on living abroad as an expat for the first time in my life, and the confinement of culture shock. I created all of these works in a room roughly 19 feet X 9 feet X 7 feet. The creative challenge of engineering the room (with 5 cats no less) to make all this happen became part of the theme. It is also about finding the space to create within the box between my ears. I will be including many of these works in an upcoming solo painting exhibition this September here in the ROK, my first overseas solo painting show. I will be posting updates on that.