Ex-pop star bares his soul through photographs

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Ex-pop star bares his soul through photographs

Art often expresses and brings out the private interior of the one who creates it, but the notion of privacy can be uniquely different between those who lived, however briefly, as teenage idols and, say, the majority of us who didn’t.
The chances of peeking into a star’s inner world are extremely slim, because few pop stars explore mediums of art outside of music. For example, Paul McCartney began showing his paintings only in 1999, and David Bowie now works as an artist and promotes young artists.
The exhibition currently shown in the artsy neighborhood of Hongdae, in northern Seoul, by photographer Jung Hoon, aptly titled “Private Space,” displays the former rocker’s memory and the impact on his stage life when his own private space went public. Comparing Mr. Jung’s decade-long musical career with international stars may be a reach, yet similarities in approaches and style can be found, especially in the semi-autobiographical journey of their search for identity and sense of existence in relation to themselves.
Mr. Jung’s band, called Girl, peaked in popularity from 1995 to 1997, becoming the country’s hottest boy band. But, like Mr. McCartney and Mr. Bowie, his real passion was fine art. While working as the curator of the capital’s prestigious Gallerie Bhak, Mr. Jung earned a master of fine arts degree in photography at Chungang University, a school reputed for churning out fine photographers in Korea.
The 29-year-old photographer’s debut solo exhibition in the new Style Cube Zandari gallery features 14 works. The space is divided into two, one showing so-called “straight” photographs, the other vividly digitized color prints made with image data of his photographs. The photographer said the two spaces chronicled his personal history, as a photographer, dealing with his sense of privacy and own private space.
Both works and spaces embrace the photographer’s personal experience in the notion of privacy. His black-and-white photographs feature his bedroom, for example, and the adjacent room hangs colorful images titled “My Eyes” and “My Hair.”
Mr. Jung’s self-exploration in the photographs taken before 1998 uses the art form as a way of capturing the truthful forms of reality.
The series of neon-bright images of eyes, which look more like a cloud of an unknown murky mass, are digitally super-enlarged images made from color data extracted from photographs of Jung’s own pupils.
If David Bowie’s 1997 “eye” series was a modernist approach to photography, with pupils on solid color frames, Mr. Jung has taken it one step further by fusing photography with fine art.
Comparing Mr. Jung’s style with American abstract artist Mark Rothko, famous for his oil paintings of solid color blocks on canvas, curator Yoon Du-hyun said, “What makes Mr. Jung’s work interesting is that he is not an abstract painter but a photographer.”

by Ines Cho

The exhibition runs until Sept. 20. For more information, call the gallery at (02) 323-4155 or visit www.zandari.com (Korean only).
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