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"The White House"
14.08. - 04.10.2009
Curated by Malin Barth
In his animated film series "In God We Trust", Jeon Joonho has taken on the world's recognizable US Dollar banknote and themes it symbolizes. The dominant role of the dollar in the international finance system is highly relevant to the artistic gaze. The United States owns the world currency which is considered number one. He also wants to look at the complex relationship between the United States and Korea. In the work "The White House", a small figure with a stepladder paints over, or "white-wash", the windows and doors of the presidential residence as depicted on the back of a twenty-dollar banknote. The New York Times has described this work in a review as "strong and provocative thought awakening".
Jeon Joonho (b. in 1969 in Dusan) is a South Korean artist who received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Dong-eui University in Busan, South Korea and Master of Arts from Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, United Kingdom. Jeon has had several solo exhibitions at SCAI The Bathhouse in Tokyo (2009); Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Paris (2008); Arario Gallery in Cheonan, Korea (2008); and at Perry Rubenstein in NewYork (2007). Jeon has also participated in several group exhibitions including Your Bright Future at LACMA(2009); Metamorphosis at The Museum of Fine Art, Houston in Houston, Texas (2008); and All About Laughter at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2007); and at L’ Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton. JEON was awarded at the 2004 Gwangju Biennial and at the 2007 Ljubijana Biennial. He has been purchased by the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Contemporary Arts Museum in Huston, TX, and Seoul Museum of Art.
'JEON JOONHO: HYPER REALISM'
by Benjamin Genocchio
for the New York Times
The Korean artist Jeon Joonho is redecorating the White House. Not the building in Washington, but its representation on the reverse side of the $20 bill. Into a digital rendering of the currency's familiar architectural scene, Mr. Jeon introduces a shadowy figure with a ladder and a paint roller, who, over several minutes, toils to cover the building's front windows and sandstone walls with glossy white paint. He even erases the decorative pediments above the ground floor windows on the facade, which gallery viewers attuned to architecture may notice is different from that of the current building; the White House has been substantially remodelled over its history of more than 200 years.
It is a playful trick, transforming the White House from a stately neo-Classical mansion in the popular Palladian style into a kind of bunker or fortified castle -- a comment, perhaps, on the continuing hysteria surrounding the threat of terrorism inside the United States. The artist's ''whitewashing'' of the structure also lends itself to pointed political readings, though there is no mention of this in the gallery literature. Either way, this is powerful, thought-provoking art.