SIM Up, Escaping Light in contrast to the history, And the truth

Yun DongHee | Media Communication, C.E.O of Booknomad Publishing Corp

   According to common idea, we are living in a state of extreme exhaustion and tiredness. We all agree with a philosopher who claimed that if the 20th century was ‘the period of lack’ and ‘ the society of regulation’, then the 21st century is ‘the period of excess’ and ‘the society of outcome’. In the times that only those people who comply with the new order of performance in laboring society are able to beat victory on the drum, modern human beings have been degraded to laboring being. The difference between the world and human beings in speed, however, resulted in that the world has been so fast and human beings have been so busy following the world. In one hand, it is hopeless. On the other hand, it is quite outrageous. In this confusion, human beings sometimes comply with the order of ‘don’t’ and are often deceived by sweet talks of ‘You can do it’. At some points, they came to realize that they are facing the collapse. It is too late. As always the world does not wait for human beings.

  Where did it go wrong anyway? SIM Up born in 1959 and working in China since 2006 is concerned about it. This period where in the name of global economy and the rule of market economy material prosperity overwhelms moral and spiritual values. His aesthetic reasoning hovers there. Considering his biography, he hovered ‘outside’ of artistic world for a quite long time since the graduation in 1987. Often far from the art world and sometimes on its border, he saw many things, heard many stories, and traveled many places. It was a time of living far away from home while experiencing both wealth and honor and all the emotions. In the result of wasting his life desperately, however, he became to understand another name of unforgettable timespace or the place where he should return as long as he is alive. For him, art is like that.

  His quite late return was not that slow. It is thanks to humanistic introspection learned outside of art. He began his work based on Heideggerian notion that the crucial cause for human alienation is found in the original relationship between a human being and existence. SIM Up represents well that technique makes a human being and existence have a relationship of compulsory ‘pressing’ and thus existence becomes completely forgotten. For us who became to realize that the effect of artistic movements are denied and artistic passion cannot do anything about it, the wind that SIM Up creates brings gentle waves. Shortly his sturdy and humorous works drew our attention. What is remarkable about his work is that he, only he, stops the reason of the world with all his whole body. In the reality where moral and spiritual values are buried by prioritizing materialistic progress and overwhelming techniques becomes disconnected from our values and culture, he chose ‘art, at last’.

  The reason that we are glad to see SIM Up’s work is that his work is very powerful among other neat contemporary art works that combine expression, subject, and message comfortably. It is quite a long time to meet again a work that starts with ‘sensational libido’ that is longing for sense. His first solo show (Chang Museum, Beijing in July, 2008) was sensational. Both coarse and beautiful images moved the continent. It is said that there is two kinds of art works in the world. One that has rough appearance without energy and the other that seems peaceful and silent but triggers something. There is also a work that is devoted to plastic principles but lacks of idea or a work that is full of wit but neglects artistic languages. SIM Up’s work, however, is quite different and thus, puts its devotion to obvious plastic languages which the viewer can understand, and also has its own notion that overwhelms the western civilization. Courage to destroy the beauty for the beauty itself and his own estheticism that embraces both beauty and ugliness. Instead of the harmony of the East and the West, SIM Up’s work exposes the ‘real flesh’ of the reality where we stand. The beauty of freely content on the border between the Western culture that prioritizes Being in the philosophical study and the Eastern culture that puts learning of nothingness in its foremost. SIM Up’s artistic territory is expansive as such.

  His idea of his works is quite timely. At that time, it was questioned whether free market would guarantee liberal society in the situation where global capitalism is winning. It was a time anybody who can think was quite critical about Americanized Super capitalism. Identity has been changed from ‘citizen’ to ‘consumer or investor’ and companies with a slogan of global competition and revolution has exerted their powers. In the illusion that everybody lives well, the values of civil communities have been destroyed helplessly. Except for only a very small minority of people who monopolized wealth, almost everybody has been exhausted and tired of scratching a living and a life. In the time when ‘wealthy slaves’ overflew under the ‘Super Capitalism’, SIM Up foresaw an individual’s impoverished life after the climax of capitalism. In this era when families are broken and the local communities are divided and it is only possible to earn a living by working for the most time of a day, such simple moral lessons of ‘live slow’ cannot fix any problems. From political/economical human being to cultural human! As a fertilizer for a new rule for the world, it is a romantic revolution of ‘culture’, he proclaimed. Timely, or fortunately, American economy collapsed. Images of Statue of Liberty, dollars, and American armies, and images of peoples resisting and struggling... It was the moment when the muscle of movement sticked firmly to his reasoning frame that instinctively understood the historical limit of the Western civilization.

  If SIM Up’s first solo show was quite close to the death of the Western civilization, his second exhibition (Gallery TN, November in 2011) was near revitalization of the Eastern civilization. He has brought examinations and destructions in the principle of endless innovational transformation. Considered as somehow mutant by us who are used to sweet contemporary art, his works make a frontal attack on the Western civilization that repeats spectacular violence and the capitalism. He abhors today’s art that overissues worn-out promises that will not be kept in the misunderstanding that romance is an artistic aura. The result that he acquired at the age of fifty after wasting the most of his life in the capitalism is ‘Anti-capitalism’ or ‘post-capitalism’. The world became to respond to his firm understanding that a human being is completely destroyed under the capitalism. For him, a human being is a unique being that cannot be replaced.

  In his work, a husky voice and a strong body movement are sensed. What draws our attentions is the images of the traditional sculpture, but while we touch those images with our eyes, we can hear dirty swearing. If a dynamically wriggling body is the first image, ‘curse’ that criticizes the banality of an incoherent life would be the last image. Originally, swearing is a prototype of a humor that creates laughing out loud. Our swearing is all around. Without saying many things, a short swearing could touch our real life. There is no such witty and cutting remark as swearing. SIM Up’s work is as such. His ‘curse’ that thunders toward the Chinese continent is almost recklessly full of confidence. Such direct and obvious curse that criticizes the Western civilization which gave a birth to violence registers his name in our mind. SIM Up pushes hard art with his own life experience and insight. This humanistic introspection demands self-examination and questions responsibility. There are curses in its beginning and at its end. The difference between his contemporary artist colleagues and him is in such experience and realization. It is beautiful because it is so itself rather than it is for the beauty. In such rigid everyday life, we feel delighted by his revealing work without any hesitation.

Rebellious beauty toward immoral world

  In this upcoming exhibition in Seoul, we could see where SIM Up would like to go at this moment. Really in a long time, we could hear a powerful and confident artist’s voice which is his own. We are also moved by the fact that we could touch a quite different aesthetical materials with our eyes. To ‘truthful’ sculpture that can be said to continue the tradition of realism, a new material, so called air cap vinyl, is introduced as his own individual language. His new work which is somewhat kitsch, somewhat modern, somewhat esthetic, and somewhat obscene attract our attentions strangely enough. A strange echo that regards internal depth of art as falsehood can be sensed in ‘air cap vinyl woman’. Artistic balance that is not that heavy nor light. Without any luxurious materials and traditional elegance, artworks can be aesthetic enough, as SIM Up’s freewheeling work shows. In the time when art cannot remain as just art any longer and philosophy cannot remain as itself anymore, SIM Up tried to find the point of finality between those two. His reasoning and sense that give lights to the sweetness of the colorful capitalism and its innate darkness make it possible. To represent the portrait of the period when the capitalism has an indeterminate end, he introduced ‘the aesthetics of light’ that did not exist in the air. This light is the gist of this exhibition or his recent change. Flickering of those lights draws us in. The spectrum of light heated up lasciviously and unable to be defined as specific colors tells us where we are right now. Images toward ‘us’ who have absurd hope or despair about the world, the material, and the desire. SIM Up’s rebellious ‘light’ that was born in China and developed in Seoul, thus, very creative.

  This is the really ‘crazy’ world. So is art. In this crazy art world that completely depends on rise and fall, the existence of SIM Up who has both hot sobriety soand intense contemplation that are incompatible makes us moved. In that sense, he is obviously different from other artists who have contemporary sensitivity with brain without body or body without brain. The reason that we have hope about his work is ironically the fact that he does not cry out for hope. This is why his swearing attitude is trustworthy instead of irresponsible hope and unconscientious compromise. Who said that we had not given our heart to art which told about the hope that might easily create aesthetical turmoil and be brought in through compromise. If he is absolutely right, SIM Up’s art would be hopeful since it won’t become a political slogan, that is, “From despair to hope!” Works despairing at the crazy world; works thinking hard about you and us beyond I, me, my, mine; works flowing through the eastern-western aesthetics; primal freedom beyond the ‘contemporary’ whose meaning has been lost would be beautiful. I do believe that the relation between an artist and artworks should be founded on affectionate hardship as a poetic language saying “I will die if you die’. I long for and desire both an artist and his outcome that hover between their remote areas and the end of each other in this morbid affection. For me who believe that this free escape will give a birth to truth, SIM Up is a fatal artist who sings despair. He is a ‘real’ artist.