Mother & Son - Your Wishes (2007)

Yoo, Hyoung-jung (Curator - Songeun Gallery)



We are busy. We are exhausted. It does not matter which area we are in, we live hectic lives at work or school as if we were chased by something. What about the irregularities of the world itself? Tension between ideologies and political situations have been causing wars and famines. There are also environmental problems, diseases, lies, etc. from which we cannot be free. It is like little toothed wheels of individual suffering integrate to be in gear as one irresistibly huge toothed wheel that moves the world. Tic tock, tic tock. It is no different from a timed bomb. One might desire a departure from one's ordinary life, a rest for one's worn out body and mind, pleasure, salvation through religion, peace of mind, and so forth. Now, you tell me. What are your wishes?


Jun Noh puts his wishes, that are very likely our wishes too, into his own uniquely delightful and humble characters in this exhibition. His work, such as ‘Yummy Cake with Pati and Rudi’, ‘Comfy Chair’ and ‘Clo Clone’ greet us with the appearance of having little departures from daily lives, exemplifying freedom and rest.


Noh's characters all look friendly and familiar in their little animal forms. They remind you of the lovable pets that you used to have or the favorite cartoon characters in your childhood. For that reason, we feel the urge to touch his characters regardless of the warning sign, 'Do not touch' and without consideration of the immense effort that the artist put into producing them. Can this urge or the actual touching be a departure from respect of artwork? Desire to touch doubles the joy of our eyes. (I'm not surprised by the fact that his characters have often been damaged during exhibitions.)


Anyway, coming back to our reality in which it is too depressing for us to just sit and dream about departures from daily lives, Noh cures his despair through a yellow submarine, called ‘Sudaru submarine’. On top of this submarine, an otter called ‘Sudaru’ is sitting. Where do you think this little otter is going? Noh believes that the submarine is the most immoral item ever invented. However, he has transformed the typical submarine that is used to attack the opponent sneakily under water into a cute little yellow submarine that has lost its purposes. In addition, it has cute little ‘Sudaru’ on its top. Who could imagine Sudaru's destiny would be a bloody combat zone?


In addition, we get to see a white object, which is always paired up with each of his characters like a shadow. It is the plaster mould from which each character was born and Noh names it 'Mother'. Noh applied many layers of oriental ink to a plaster solid and sanded it repeatedly after each layer to finally make an enormous mould that looks like a solid piece of marble. This work presents not only as a mould for his character, 'Son,' but also as a work of art itself beyond its purpose. Considering Noh's diligence and devotion to his work and his people, this white object evokes the feeling of a mother's womb that gives everything to the unborn child during the long duration of pregnancy.


We all miss and rely on the maternal being. We want to relate to it through our mothers at home or through religions and philosophies. By attaching 'Mother and Son' to every title of his work, "Noh matches us with the maternal being, that has been suppressed, by pairing his work and its mould." (Sun-Young Lee, 2006)


From describing daily lives to questioning about fundamental beings, Noh's work contains the artist's individual wishes as well as ours. His work is a delightful gift to our desolate and insecure lives. Let's appreciate it with sweet but serious eyes.