PKM GALLERY Beijing is proud to present as its first solo show the works of the Korean conceptual artist, Cody Choi in "Passage in Peking." The exhibition is Choi's first solo exhibition in China and provides a comprehensive overview of his career with works in both sculpture and painting created from 1986 to the present.
Choi, born in Seoul, Korea in 1961 first moved to the United States for art school in 1983. The artist continued to reside there until recently when he returned to Seoul and now splits his time between New York and his hometown. This bi-cultural existence is key to the understanding of Choi's art which works through the challenges and confusions brought upon someone confounding cultural assumptions, expectations, and stereotypes with the reality of living in a foreign country. The mental stress of these anxieties had physical repercussions for the young artist causing chronic indigestion which the artist treated with the iconically pink American medicine Pepto-Bismol.
Pepto-Bismol plays a key role in three of the early works included in this exhibition not only as a symbol, but also as a medium. Golden Boy Poster: Heidegger's Church (1986-91) is a depiction of cultural differences, dyspepsia, and kitsch expressions from the Third World. The artist's deep interest in theory is expressed in the subtitle referring to Heidegger's belief in the necessity of reconciliation between the object and subject. The fruits of Choi's intense self-medication are the two sculptures, The Thinker (1996) and Untitled (1996-97), in which the artist uses Pepto-Bismol soaked toilet paper to create the bright pink works. Through the use of this unusual medium, he appropriates an icon of Western art history and establishes a connection with his body, emphasized by a cut-out in the pedestal of the sculpture in which the artist himself sits in the classic pose. In Ego shop and Scamps, Scram #1 (Self-Portrait in Energy Level), two installations from 1994, Choi uses sculpture to spatially define his mental landscape.
Paintings comprise the more recent grouping of works (all 2008) all composed of vutek ink on canvas. Five lush digital abstract paintings dominated by rich reds and oranges which conscientiously echo Gerhard Richter's abstract paintings are on display. Overlapping layers of patterns and bands of colors streaming vertically and horizontally across the canvas come downloaded from the internet – their purely virtual provenance an inversion of Richter's techniques.
Cody Choi's latest series Delirium Trigger (2008) employs two cognitive elements of "color" and "letter" to reflect the status of mental "delirium" that is characteristic of 21st century society in which the advent of the Internet has brought about a dismantling of the border between the real and the virtual. While your right brain tries to say the color, your left brain insists on reading the word, thus causing a sort of "delirium (Left-Right Conflict)." Likewise, the constant traveling back and forth between the virtual reality and the real world mediated through the Internet brings about a confusion between the truth and fake information that generates similar a "delirium."
This aspect of contemporary society expressed in Cody Choi's Delirium Trigger series also proves that the status the of "double brain" illustrated in William Gibson's novel Neuromancer (1984) and Paul Virilio's description of "slow sex and fast orgasm" where the borderline between physical conditions and mentality is confused and disappears have now become reality.