Critics’ Picks

Mun-gi Yang, Luxury Stone 4, 2009, stone, 13 x 3 1/2 × 9".

Seoul

Mun-gi Yang

Park Ryu Sook Gallery
118-17 Chungdam, 1 Dong Gangnam-gu 3F Nature Poem Building
April 1 - April 13

In his first solo show in Seoul, Mun-gi Yang playfully derides the value that high-end accessories accrue by carving Chanel and Louis Vuitton trademarks into life-size purse-shaped rocks. Some of these sculptures are placed on plinths, like objects of desire to covet in high-end boutique display cases, while others are arranged in clusters on the floor of the gallery, where at first glance they look like garden-variety stones. But all the works in the show are made from handsome dark marble, which the thirty-nine-year-old Korean artist has carved into curves and polished to a lustrous shine. The logos cover portions of rock raised to mimic a handbag’s flap or clasp, while token rough patches add the kind of eccentric touches that Vuitton and Chanel often add each season to update their classic design. Logos function as building blocks for consumer pop culture, and the ubiquity of these particular brands makes the interlocked CC and LV among the most primitive shorthand symbols for “style.” However, Yang’s satire is not aimed at the monumental brands he appropriates. Instead, his chiding is aimed at the shoppers who convince themselves out of snobbishness or insecurity that flashy accessories are solid investments that will cement their reputations and secure their social standings, while they turn their backs on art’s more valuable challenges.