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G-Dragon elevated to art?

Museum joins hands with YG Entertainment for art exhibition that reflects his musical world

Amid high anticipation and skeptics, a collaborative art exhibition with G-Dragon opened Tuesday at the Seoul Museum of Art, presenting some 200 artworks reflecting the world of the young K-pop idol.

The exhibition is the first mega collaboration between a Korean celebrity and contemporary art in Korea. The exhibition, co-organized by YG Entertainment and the Seoul Museum of Art, commissioned 14 teams of artists to create collaborative pieces with G-Dragon.

Even before the opening, it emerged as a hot issue, drawing both high expectations from fans and concerns and doubts from the Korean art circle. 

G-Dragon poses in front of the media installation by duo artist group Bang & Lee (Seoul Museum of Art)
G-Dragon poses in front of the media installation by duo artist group Bang & Lee (Seoul Museum of Art)

For fans, the exhibition is a chance to get to know more about their idol outside the performance stage. The first part of the exhibition “(Non) Fiction museum” created by G-Dragon and the artist group Fabrikr looks at G-Dragon’s inspirations and interests in art through his art and furniture collections as well as objects and accessories he designed. On display include works of noted artists such as the Alexander Calder sculpture “Black Elephant” and a neon installation by Tracey Emin.

G-Dragon wasn’t pretentious explaining his art collection.

“I don’t really have a guideline for the collection,” he said. “I just have this fantasy over aesthetics. I like to watch something beautiful whether they are clothes, women or music,” he said.

The exhibition, however, has raised doubts and criticism in the Korean art circle over the Seoul Museum of Art’s decision to host an event that intends to promote the K-pop idol musician via sophisticated presentations by local artists. Some artists expressed concerns that participating artists and their ideas are overshadowed by G-Dragon’s popularity.

Director of the museum Kim Hong-hee refuted the concerns and stressed in the news conference on Monday that the museum expects to expand a range of audiences with this exhibition.

“The museum is not for art elitists. It should embrace diverse audiences. This exhibition is part of our effort to invite a wide range of audiences to the museum,” said Kim.

The exhibition was first initiated by YG Entertainment, which seeks to expand its business portfolio into broader fields such as fashion and beauty. It is considered a smart strategy to enhance the image of their artist for future business opportunities.

Artists, selected through recommendations from YG and the museum, present various artworks from paintings, photographs, sculptures, installations to media works under G-Dragon’s musical vision of “PEACE MINUS ONE.” The singer coined the phrase to describe the world he sees ― the utopian world and the real world with shortcomings or “MINUS.”

Many artworks on display reflect this vision. The duo artist group Bang & Lee said they met G-Dragon six times during the working process, exchanging and sharing ideas and feedbacks. They came up with the media installation themed “revolution” from G-Dragon’s song “Coup d’etat.”

The photographs of artist Park Hyung-geun also reflected the world seen by G-Dragon through the musical vision. His photographs “Landscape of PEACEMINUSONE ― A Voyage with G-Dragon” feature upside-down landscape image ― a gap between the utopian world and the reality seen by G-Dragon. 

“Untitled G-Dragon, A Space of No Name” by Gwon O-sang. (Seoul Museum of Art)
“Untitled G-Dragon, A Space of No Name” by Gwon O-sang. (Seoul Museum of Art)

Not all artworks are commissioned. Sophie Clements presents her 2012 video work “How We Fall” that explores a moment of change through the fast-forward images of cement fall. Universal Everything, the U.K.-based digital art group, brought one of their earlier works “Supreme Believers,” featuring a dancer’s movement dispersed into particles.

Lee Yun-joon of Bang & Lee artist group said he is aware of the risk that comes with this project, but noted that collaborations are important in the field of art.

“We have seen many collaborations between pop artists and contemporary artists in Europe since more than a decade. People look at this exhibition with a great interest, but I think it’s because it is held for the first time in Korea. This is not the final product, but the start of dynamic collaborations between pop music and contemporary art,” said Lee.

The exhibition “PEACEMINUSONE: Beyond the Stage” runs until Aug. 23 in Seoul. It will go on tour in Shanghai and Singapore later.

By Lee Woo-young (