“My early tattoo paintings were three dimensional canvases in the form of lumps of flesh or parts of a body…” the artist said, “I was interested in tattoo as a metaphor for hidden desire or a kind of compulsion engraved into human consciousness. I see the skin, or in some case the monitor, as an extension of a canvas.”
He, however, defies the general address saying that he is a tattoo or body artist. “What interests me is the story underneath, which is not visible,” he elaborated. “It is not a kind of body art, because technically there is no body used in the image. It is all computer-generated.” Instead of pursuing his aesthetics on real skin, Kim Joon stretches his animation knowledge to make the computer screen his new artistic playground, where he creates lifelike nude bodies blanketed by multi-coloured tattoos that may suffice a tattoo fanatic. The process of tattooing, he refers to, is a kind of provoking desire.
The prints that clothe the bodies include traditional Asian patterns and totems, and such a well-known picture as the banana print in an Andy Warhol’s masterpiece (Stay – Warhol, 2007). As the creative pursuit thrives, brand logos and consumer objects fill his ‘canvas’. In the celebrated ‘Bird Land’ series in 2008 and 2009, Kim showcased an array of boldly coloured and jam-packed bodies seized by prints and logos, from motor giants like Chrysler and Honda, to luxury brands like Balenciaga and Armani, as if he plotted to visualise the hunger of consumers nowadays.
“It is not about whether I like the brands. These are the names so prevailing in our society that we cannot really avoid. It is part of capitalist society. The real question is, can I avoid these things? And I do not think I can,” Kim elaborated. “That’s why I use them as the subject of the tattoos. It shows the pressure, the reality. They appear as a kind of intrusion.”
As an artist, Kim Joon brings about a surge of emotions. Like James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’, the seamless collision of reality and dream presents a bare panorama of human emotions. The coming pages are a vivid manifestation of how the Kim Joon’s photographic poetry comes into reality, and presents a simply exceptional imagery.
Over the next few pages, Kim Joon collaborates with our fashion contributors in a fashion spread detailing brands with models almost in the nude. Kim’s stunning artworks provide a provocative backdrop and social comment on the world of branding — in an exclusive collaboration with WestEast.
Text by Ren Wan
Published in Issue 30 ART