Group exhibition featuring Ernie Wang, Marte Eknaes, Reba Maybury, Tamar Magradze, Tyler Dobson, Xavier Robles de Medina at Efremidis Seoul.

No Remedy For Memory
Artists: Ernie Wang, Marte Eknaes, Reba Maybury, Tamar Magradze, Tyler Dobson, Xavier Robles de Medina
June 30 - July 29, 2023
Efremidis, Seoul

A slow hot day: you decide to take a walk through the town. You wander without purpose, but find yourself falling into familiar patterns, as if years of repetition have worn into the air like dimples in old stone steps. The melancholy refrain of a pop song loops its way through your head, a half-forgotten but insistent shape. In the park your attention is snagged by a small bright thing, and you lie down on your belly in the long grass for a closer look. An intricate and ambiguous architecture, a whorled maze of gloss and stain, You’d like to crawl inside this miniature world, forget yourself for a while in its tiny games. No remedy for memory is a show about lingering memories that continue to manipulate the present. The 6 practices shown here are wildly varied, each artist spinning their own distinct web of research, reference and motive. What knits them together, however, are their aims to negotiate with the structures and histories of images and spaces: the ambivalent nostalgias, escapist fantasies and fading emblems that mark and shape our
memories. Tyler Dobson blends shades of millennial fandom with the sincere veneration of art history’s ‘greats’, imbuing everything with an ironic melancholy. His works sample pop-cultural and canonical icons like Mark Rothko, Lana Del Rey, Gottlieb and CocaCola, playing with the recognisability of his source material to question the integrity and glamour these symbols accumulate through time. While these sources provide a cover, Tyler Dobson’s masquerade of appearances also exposes how fallible the artist’s subjectivity—or anyone’s for that matter— really is. Repeating dots, dashes and lines anchor the painting’s compositions, mimicking punctuation and calligraphic marks, and as such, situate the paintings in an ambivalent space between image and language, representation and abstraction. Marte Eknas’ sculptural works examine the performativity of objects and specific materials, particularly their influence on our movements through and within public space. Her materials are selected for precise and nuanced qualities, often linked to industrial functionality and infrastructural ubiquity. However, Eknaes’ re-contextualisation of these materials brings out a variety of subtle emotive charges. Her PVC sculpture ‘!’ explores an interest in the arbitrariness of symbols: that through repeated exchange and habit, something as simple as a line and a dot can come to signal exclamation or alarm. Xavier Robles de Medina’s practice draws from a broad personal archive of images ranging from video screenshots, to historical artworks, to pop-cultural icons. His drawing Rajio Taiso (study) is based on a series of etchings by Frans Huys, a 16th century Flemish engraver who worked for Pieter Bruegel de Oude. Robles de Medina noticed how Huys’ etchings incorporate images from around the world during the early stages of the European Colonial Project. The sculpture “Cult Value” translates the drawing Rajio Taiso (study) into three dimensions. By covering the sculpture with saran wrap, the artist alludes to the sfumato technique used in Renaissance painting, blurring and obscuring the hard lines of the original form. The title “Cult Value” is a reference to Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.“ According to Benjamin, the “cult value” of an artwork is its aura of authenticity and uniqueness, and is connected to tradition and ritual. The “exhibition value,” on the other hand, is derived from the artwork’s ability to be reproduced and disseminated widely. Robles de Medina’s use of
saran wrap on the sculpture is a subversion of the traditional notion of cult value, as it creates a reproducible surface that is ephemeral and contingent.
From Paris with Love is a series of paintings by artist and political dominatrix Reba Maybury. These works are a series of ‘paint-by-numbers’ kits, each depicting Toulouse Lautrec’s 1894 oil painting The Medical Examination, in which sex workers await a mandatory inspection. Each work was completed by one of Maybury’s ‘submissives’, a method of production and exchange of labour that lies at the core of the artist’s practice. Maybury’s series highlights how Toulouse Lautrec’s recognisable style – ubiquitous in Paris through tourist souvenirs – has come to embody a certain romanticisation of the city, with associations of leisure, pleasure and the freedoms of bourgeois modernity, and therefore masks less favourable political and material realities. In the powerplay of ordering her submissive clients to reproduce the painting, Maybury interrogates the
ambivalent violence that underpins Lautrec’s historical work. Tamar Magradze’s paintings seem to depict imaginary or dreamed creations, avatars of a collective memory or escapist desire. These often feminine or androgynous figures gaze ambiguously from the surface of a canvas, not pinnable to any concrete geography or moment in time. Rather, they appear as personifications of various moods which oscillate between determination, melancholy and fragility. Having grown up in Georgia through the Soviet regime and civil unrest, Tamar’s painting practice offered relief to the traumas of this time. The paintings’ surreal, sweeping textures create glimpses into a mythological world, where people, animals and landscapes seem connected by a continuous flow in and out of each other. Whether this is a harmonious confluence or a fickle, vulnerable instability, Tamar’s images remain elusive. Ernie Wang responds to the frustrations of a world constantly threatened by economic and environmental collapse. Unable to lose consciousness of this daunting reality, Wang’s refined ceramic craft leans gladly into sugar-coated fantasy. Drawing from a rich lexicon of enigmatic, daydreamed symbols inspired by video games and virtual worlds, these works invite momentary escape into miniature utopias, assembled with the joy-fuelled dedication of a child playing with Lego. While these whorling elaborations and external painterly expressions stage the frustrated clashing of multiple realities and ideologies, ultimately Wang’s sculptures convey a distinct joy in the act of making, a mode of production that is rationale for its own existence.