British Japanese artist Simon Fujiwara’s art seems playful and mischievous at first glance, as presented at an exhibition at Gallery Hyundai in Seoul. The recurring presence of a bear in his oeuvre piques the curiosity of viewers, leading them to question what the artist wants to tell the world -- and who the bear is.
Fujiwara has brought together some 40 works of art at a solo exhibition in Seoul that opened on April 5. An identity-free cartoon bear named “Who” -- which seemingly has no race, sexuality or gender -- appears in paintings, recognized by its white fur, golden heart and impossibly long tongue.
Many of his paintings at the gallery might feel familiar, as the artist has been inspired by 20th-century masters like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Damien Hirst. The artist calls his art “pastiche,” imitating the style or character of the work with homage.
Fujiwara’s pastiche paintings and collages are housed in the Whoseum of Who – a museum of the art of “Who.” In“Who's Whoggenheim of Modern Art,” the artist depicts a museum as an amusement park, as if asking how people seeing the museum today where they take photos of works and share them on social media for fun.
The world of Who was developed by the artist during the pandemic lockdown. The artist noted “it was a Dada-esque response to an increasingly absurd and incomprehensible world,” according to the gallery.
Fujiwara will present a new pop-up Whoseum store, or Whotique, in collaboration with Hyundai Gallery. Housed in Art Cube, a new line of Who the Bear merchandise that includes household goods, clothing and accessories featuring imagery from the exhibition will be available for sale in limited quantities and exclusively at the site.
"Whoseum of Who?" at Gallery Hyundai runs through May 21.