press release

Opening: Saturday, 8 April 2017, 5 pm

The Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz on Theaterplatz is presenting 80 works by the Korean artist Cody Choi (*1961) dating from the years 1986 to 2015 in a retrospective exhibition on show from 9 April to 18 June 2017. The artist will be representing Korea at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. In addition to paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures, the show will include installations, collages, objects and media and neon artworks.

Cody Choi has engaged with much admired artists from the history of European and American art in an oeuvre extending over more than three decades. He appropriates these well-known icons by alienating, ironically refracting, and sometimes also making nonsense of their motifs and statements. In works executed in the most varied techniques the artist addresses the cultural conflicts between East and West nurtured by the media. In doing this he also deals with the progressive westernisation of Asian countries resulting from their up and coming market economies. Artworks by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Edouard Manet, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Mike Kelley, Gerhard Richter and others are reflected on and questioned as to their aesthetic message and long-term impact.

Cody Choi’s works have their roots mainly in decisive events in his own life. His two sisters died when he was young, which subsequently alienated him from his mother. The family emigrated to the United States in the 1980s because of the political developments in Korea and the attendant loss of wealth and prestige. The experiences of separation and uprootedness led to a psychological crisis in his case. The artist processes these incisions, these “cuts”, formally in his work. His engagement with his psyche, his body and his excrements, as well as with icons of art history, play a major role in this. Works like Cody’s Legend vs. Freud’s Shit Box and The Thinker, which allude to Auguste Rodin’s famous sculpture, are examples of this. The bodies of the thinkers are made up of layers of toilet paper saturated in Pepto-Bismol. The artist himself, naked, occasionally takes his place in the Shit Box below, adopting the position taken by westerners when using the toilet. With this series and with the Episteme Sabotage sequence, Choi aims at cultural provocation and recoding. They are an expression of his feeling of alienation towards another culture that is incomprehensible to him, and of that culture resp. society towards him. Thus the words Yel Low Ass under Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers point to a humiliating designation for Asians (yellow ass). The painting Episteme Sabotage – Flower From East also toys with the conflict between western and eastern culture.

Cody Choi was born in Seoul, Korea, and now lives there again after stays in Los Angeles and New York.

The exhibition will be complemented by a presentation of historical Korean art from the Museum of Ostasiatische Kunst Köln.