Designer displays delicate blend of contradictions

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Designer displays delicate blend of contradictions

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The batiste-crafted pieces “Just Married”(left) and “Eternal Bride”(right), crafted by the artist Wolfgang Joop (bottom). Images provided by the gallery


If you are curious to know about the innermost thoughts of a versatile artist whose had jobs as a fashion designer, fashion journalist and fine artist, here’s an ideal exhibition for you.

And if you are familiar with the German fashion brands JOOP! and Wunderkind, you probably won’t want to miss this.

Wolfgang Joop, a celebrated German fashion designer who founded the two aforementioned labels, is currently holding his first solo exhibition in Seoul.

“Death and Faith” showcases this longtime fashion designer’s lesser-known career as a fine artist. It features a total of 18 art pieces including six sculptures from his previous solo show at the Kunsthalle art gallery in Rostock, Germany, in May 2009.

“I think my involvement in various jobs is a sort of indicator showing that it is now possible to work across borders in the arts,” Joop, wearing his own design, said at a press conference last Friday at the Michael Schultz Gallery Seoul where his show is on display.

“It is our privilege to host Wolfgang Joop’s first solo show in Korea,” said Michael Schultz, chief director of the Michael Schultz Gallery, which has branches in Berlin, Beijing and Seoul.

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Artist portrait by Park Sun-young

“I was impressed by his solo exhibition held at Rostock last year and approached him for this show in Seoul. Joop has a unique way of telling the common theme in his works, such as existence and love, by expressing it in the context of solitude, loneliness and death,” he added.

Last year’s exhibition at Rostock, titled “Eternal Love,” is considered a moment in which Joop transcended his better-known reputation as a fashion designer to present himself as a fine artist.

“I feel like I’m turning from a fashion designer to an artist these days. The fashion industry seems to want me no longer,” Joop jokingly remarked.

The pieces currently on show at the Michael Schultz Gallery Seoul include a series of marble sculptures titled “From Dust till Dawn,” which resemble Cupid, and a series of textile banners titled “Eternal Love,” “Eternal Bride” and “Just Married.”

“Emotions such as love are intangible, so I tried to convey the feelings by using batiste in pieces like Eternal Love and Eternal Bride,” Joop said.

“Using batiste for the pieces is also related to divine inspiration. Cloth frequently appears in anecdotes of Jesus and the Holy Mother, like the Veil of Veronica,” he added.

Contradictory images such as a skull-faced bride in Eternal Bride and a grieved look on the face of angels depicted in From Dust till Dawn keep Joop’s work interesting.

“Our life is full of contradictions. That is, those who have been in sorrow can know what joy is and you can appreciate living in peace after you experience being insanely busy,” Joop explained. “Beauty is accompanied by surprise, pain and sacrifice,” he continued. “It is like the sun is beautiful, but when you try to look at it your eyes are so dazzled that you cannot see it.”

Then what would be difference between fashion design and art in the eyes of the artist?

“Fashion design, which has the attraction of being multiplied, should be made for practical use to be helpful to people’s lives while art cannot be reproduced and is something unique - it reflects the artist’s soul,” he said. “As a fashion designer, I usually team up with others and put my passion into the work while as an artist, I work alone and the work involves my obsession.”

Joop, who revealed that Korea is the first Asian country he has ever visited, remarked that he was “amazed by Korean people’s enthusiasm for art.”

“I assure that the Korean public will have a good time seeing this show, where one can enjoy the artist’s varied works from various points of view,” Schultz said.

The exhibition “Death and Faith” by Wolfgang Joop runs at Michael Schultz Gallery Seoul until March 6. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Mondays to Saturdays. Go to Apgujeong Station, line No. 3, exit 2, or Cheongdam Station, line No. 7, exit 9. For more information, contact the gallery at (02) 546-7955.


By Park Sun-young [spark0320@joongang.co.kr]

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