NJ Entertainment, Seoul (2008)

Hah, Gye-Hoon (Art Critic)

At the first sight Noh Jun’s work reminds us of amiable animal characters at the theme park. The people friendly animals in bright colors in a rather small scale give this kind of sweet impression. To the art viewers who are seeking an alternative mode of art appreciation from the contemporary art scene which is diffused with excess subjectivism and dramatic abstraction and theorization, Noh’s work offers a solace. His work has a quality that stimulates one’s imagination without exhausting one’s mind. It rather offers peace to the mind.

Noh Jun teaches sculpture to children. There could be some correlation between his teaching experience and his child-friendly style of art. However the outer appearance of his art should not misguide us to think that his art is for children, or that is Kitsch. His characters finished in urethane have a highly reflective, almost juicy surface which reminds us of Pop Art. Clo, Flo, Sudaru, Zara, Kkamjigi, and Temmy tap into layers of meaning through symbols and narrative in our culture. Through the soft and familiar form that one can easily identify, the artist meditates on our existence and our respect and love for maternity through reconsidering a narrative in art. 

Noh’s characters encourage us broaden our understanding and appreciation of art. Their presence calls for revival of literality that has disappeared in the contemporary art. They also challenge us to reconsider the social relationship among human beings and animals. Those characters have been formed out of the artists’ relationship with his pets such as dogs and cats. Thus as a matter of fact, the characters model the artist’s observation of social behaviors or human and animals as well as his wishes and ideals.  

Noh’s naïve-looking work in reality is a product of the laborious process of searching for an idea, sketching, and actually making, which includes casting, coloring, and repeated delicate trimming. In his third solo exhibition at the Song-Eun Gallery, which showed his works that won the Grand Prize at Song-Eun Art Awards in 2006, he showcased an imaginary space with his characters. The exhibition became “the other” space in which people could depart from their exhausting ordinary lives and find liberation and rest. 

 The exhibition titled <Mother & Son-Your Wishes> probed the relationship between existence and non-existence and even the process of creations. The final work in the exhibition consists of some animal characters sitting on a delicious looking cake and multiple copies of the animals in the same space. The viewer is left to figure out whether the space represented in the art is realistic or imagined. 

Noh’ work is familiar due to its visual simplicity, a concise message, the humble rhetoric, which are distinct characteristics of the Pop Art. Noh’s work bears out an ordinary theme through a popular icon. Many pop artists have constantly used celebrities or friendly pets as subject matters for their effectiveness in getting across a message to viewer. In Noh’s case, it is rather clever and appropriate to devise the strategy that makes it possible to brand his work as a popular icon. One possibility is that the artist could incorporate more provocative subjects into his art, then he will arouse art markets and the media, and in turn will also reach the wider audience. 

It is quiet surprising that Noh used to work with clay animation for a broadcasting production company. One example of his past work, which he directed, is a soda product advertisement televised ten years ago. Some may still remember the snails having a conversation as they are slowly wriggling.  

Noh plans to have exhibitions with his diverse characters in various places in Korea. So far he has photographed his characters occupying the places he was visiting such as Tokyo and Bally. This is his way documenting art works. Wherever he goes he hopes to meet the local children there and make them happier through his works.  

The NJ Entertainment, whose name come from his initials will make a tour-exhibition all around the world with his characters. His exhibitions will be held under the names such as NJ Entertainment Seoul, NJ Entertainment New York, NJ Entertainment Paris, and etc. They will take place one at a time. The documentation of these events will hold the memories of the whole experience including the happy audience whom he will encounter in each place. This exhibition marks the significant starting point for the project.