31 July 2020
Korean artist Si On presents a body of mixed media works in her MAM solo exhibition at Mori Art Museum Tokyo, Japan until 3 January 2021.
Known for her intricate and highly expressive works, often like mid-burst manifestations of explosive raw energy, Si On combines traditional Korean textiles, Japanese paper and paint together with various less conventional materials to create her paintings and sculptural installations. She explores themes of sociocultural identity, grief, anger and sexual politics. Her assemblages are powerful fusions of vivid colour and emotion that appear to collide yet somehow live in unity within each work.
In early 2019, Parasol unit presented Si On’s very first UK and European solo exhibition. In the show on the ground floor gallery was her monumental work We Were Ugly, 2017, a long and thickly executed mixed-media artwork that covered almost the entire length of the gallery wall, together with a selection of smaller paintings and assemblage sculptures. First shown at Kyoto Art Centre, Japan, for the Culture City of East Asia 2017 exhibition, We Were Ugly consisted of 17 panels and is 20.4 metres long, making it the artist’s largest work to date. A sea of horrified eyes and monstrous screaming skulls are seen fleeing in terror from the torturous flames of an atomic bomb in this powerfully immersive work, which references the tumultuous history of political conflicts and wars throughout Korea, China and Japan. Si On uses the past tense in her title to imply hope for the future amid the political unrest in this part of the world.
Si On (1979–) was born in Dangiing, Korea. She achieved a BA in Western Painting from Mokwon University in South Korea, and in 2006 moved to Japan to pursue an MA and a PhD in Painting at Kyoto City University of Arts. Her career began during her time as a student in Japan and developed further when she moved to New York in 2013. She has received several fellowships and awards, including the Asao Kato International Scholarship, 2006–2008, the Kyoto Cultural Award, 2014, and the Tokyo Wonder Wall Competition Prize in 2014.