“Looking At The World” a solo exhibition by Song Byeok

Exhibition Dates: May 7th-May 30th, 2015

A Solo Exhibition of Works by Song Byeok
Exhibition Dates: May 7th-May 30th, 2015
Opening Reception: May 7th | 6-8 PM

ArtNowNY is pleased to present Looking at the World, a solo exhibition of works by Song Byeok. Looking at the world is Mr. Song’s first exhibition at ArtNowNY. With a critical take on the political situation in North Korea, the artist compares what he remembers if his place of origin to South Korea and the rest of the world. ArtNowNY will host an opening reception on May 7th, 2015 from 6 to 8PM in Chelsea at 548 W 28th Street, suite 232.

Looking at the World is dedicated to all those who have suffered from the physical and psychological abuses of a flawed government pivoted on the lack of human rights and freedom. The artist’s experience with art and the political issues of his country started when he was younger. His work caught the eye of a government official and he got hired as a propaganda artist for the regime. He saw that offer as an opportunity to express his artistic skills and share them with the general public, thus he ended up working for Kim Jong II. Back then, not knowing the truth, he felt very proud of himself. Unfortunately he soon found out that his job wouldn’t have had anything to do with self-expression. During the 1990s he decided to cross the Tumen River with his father to save his family from starvation. His father drowned before they were able to reach their destination. Byeok survived the journey, but he was arrested and detained in a labor camp. After several months of intense labor, hunger and tortures, he was released. When he recovered Song was even more determined to make his way to China and then to South Korea. He attempted to cross the river one more time in 2002 and he succeeded. The artist has been living under a false identity ever since. The name “Song Byeok” is a nickname that he invented to sign his paintings.

To make his works Song used Korean rice paper (Hanji), wood framing and acrylics. In his figurative paintings the narrative and metaphorical elements are carefully juxtaposed to one another to play with the link between content and perception. Byeok’s paintings came from the necessity to investigate the analogies and differences between North Korea, South Korea, America and the rest of the world. In the work “Skewed View of the United States” a man hidden under a woman’s dress is looking at the American flag through a camera covered by a North Korean flag. In the work “I want a Taste of It-1” a North Korean soldier is trying to grab a can of Campbell Soup with a lasso. The can is like a wild animal that represents hope, awareness and freedom.
The cultural shock determined by living in South Korea required a few years of adjustment for the artist. Then he came across the concept of “freedom” related to the American culture and started utilizing American symbols and personas to depict the possibility of a different way of life. The social and political issues highlighted in Song’s work are addressed to an international audience. Song wants to inform the rest of the world about the conditions of life under the North Korean totalitarian regime. His art has become a scream for help to unveil the truth about his country.



"I WANT A TASTE OF IT", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 42"x30"

"BAREFOOT", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 27"x34"

"HOPE", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 25"x37"

"A LOOK BEHIND THE PROPAGANDA", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 23"x48"

"Extreamly Diffrent", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 48"x76"

"Peace", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 23"x48"

"Take Off", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 37"x72"

"Take Off", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 37"x72"

"I WANT A TASTE OF IT", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 42"x30""BAREFOOT", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 27"x34""HOPE", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 25"x37""A LOOK BEHIND THE PROPAGANDA", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel,  23"x48""Extreamly Diffrent", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 48"x76""Peace", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 23"x48""Take Off", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 37"x72""Take Off", Mr Song, Acrylic on Korean Ricer paper mounted on panel, 37"x72"