Stories from normal life caught in ironic forms

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Stories from normal life caught in ironic forms

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Every work by Noh Seo-mee tells a story, which often refers to personal experiences from her life, almost like a visual diary.
In “Kamui Omante,” she presents a drawing of a bear surrounded by rainbow balloons, referring to a documentary she saw that traced the eventful life of a bear. “A Matter of a Bag,” a simple caricature of a flying airplane, traces back the artist’s dialogue with a man she met on a plane who described traveling as “a matter of where you put your bag on the ground.”
Noh’s name spread through the local art scene after her murals for the Ssamziegil art space caught the public’s eye. Noh’s work was originally more for the public than for galleries: Her handmade dolls sold in museum shops were a popular hit long before she started showing her drawings.
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In her current exhibit, “Unfussy Life” at Gallery Ssamzie, she presents a series of ironic drawings.
The images use bright colors and simple forms to depict profound subjects, in a way that mixes emotional space with physical space.
The drawings attract attention mainly because they tell stories. Yet most viewers won’t be able to understand the references because the images are so simple and the titles so vague.
The artist has deliberately made the narrative ambiguous. The explanatory texts that go with some of the works almost never correspond with their images.
For example, in drawings like “A Radio and Peaches” she shows a box of peaches, but no radio.
“It’s amazing,” Noh says, “Some people still get the exact sense of what I am trying to depict, the state of mind I was in.”
All of her works have an overpowering sense of melancholy. The effect contrasts with the artist’s carefree style of drawings, which are done in acrylic with a sense of humor and levity.
“I could get away with it, because I am not an illustrator,” she says. “I’m not obligated to make images to describe the text.”
Yet she does, in a way.
Through her dry humor and mundane phrases, the artist poses familiar moments from ordinary life, only into unfamiliar shapes.


by Park Soo-mee

“Unfussy Life” by Noh Seok-mee runs through March 20. For more information, call Gallery Ssamzie at (02) 736-0088.

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