Sindoh Cultural Space is proud to present Rapport Circus, a solo exhibition by Park Minjoon. The exhibition is based on a story written by the artist himself about two brothers, Rapo and Rapu, who are circus clowns. Rapo, the elder brother, never ceases to attract the attention of the spectators, while his younger sibling always follows him around like his shadow. The artist depicts the characters inhabiting a fantastic world of his own creation in a very vivid and detailed fashion. The exhibition consists of fourteen paintings and two sculptures that introduce viewers to the sorrows and frustrations of the two circus clowns.

▲ Tamer with a Bear, Oil on canvas, 51x36cm, 2014

Sindoh Cultural Space is proud to present the solo exhibition of Park Minjoon, who has been widely praised for producing works characterized by detailed brush strokes, reminding viewers of the classical tradition of Western art. The title of the exhibition, Rapport Circus, is taken from the title of the novel written by the artist himself, in which he depicts an imaginative world of fantasy inhabited by equally fantastic characters. These characters are captured in his paintings and sculptures in a vividly expressive and detailed style.  

▲ Aika, Oil on canvas, 160x120cm, 2018

The main focus of this exhibition is placed on the sorrows and frustrations of two circus clowns, Rapo and Rapu who are also brothers. Rapo, the elder brother, is an extremely talented clown who captivates the entire audience whenever he performs on stage, while his younger brother meekly follows him around, as if he were the elder sibling’s shadow. The brothers, along with the other characters, are dressed in fanciful costumes and perform with exotic and symbolic props that create a dreamy atmosphere, drawing a sharp contrast with the realistic depiction of the characters, and inviting viewers into a surrealistic world. 

▲ Rapu- Fireworks in the Night Sky, Oil on canvas, 100.5x72.5cm, 2018

Unlike his earlier works, in which the artist created a separate story for each artwork, the new works presented in Rapport Circus are connected in a single imaginary world and the imaginary characters who inhabit it. As the word of the exhibition title, rapport, suggests—rapport is a psychological term referring to a relationship of mutual understanding or trust between two people—the two circus performers are closely connected with each other and with their creator, the artist Park Minjoon; and they are so close and trusting of each other that they can easily enter each other’s own world lying beyond mere communication by language.

▲ The Birth of Death, Oil on canvas, 160x120cm, 2017

What Park Minjoon is trying to show in this exhibition is the virtual space of Rapport Circus created by the artist himself and “a world in which all kinds of magical events are understandable, although it may not be possible to fully explain the causal links between them.” These works lead viewers into the fantastic world depicted through scenes that they have never seen before, but which are not totally foreign, by combining the story of the brothers with mythical images or historical episodes.

Park Minjoon’s latest works show that the life we humans are now leading is as precarious as walking on a tightrope, and the circus where all movements should be made in the limited space of a circle, allowing no one to free themselves from the daily activities that must be made within the circumference around us, and urging us to rotate around a pre-destined track on the stage, never leaving the position or posture assigned to us. The circus depicted by the artist can then become “a life or a festival according to each viewer’s perspective.”

The single-legged trainer, Bottom, tells Rapu during the tightrope walk class to teach him how to walk on a rope: “It is through gravity that this ground expresses its yearning to see us. You are not strong enough to beat the power of gravity when you leave the ground for the first time in order to enter this world. That is why you can’t stand to walk. You will need some time before you can gain the strength needed to resist gravity. It is only then that you will be able to stand on your own two feet. Then, you will start to grow, gradually forgetting the existence of gravity. You won’t hear its voice calling you. By then you will have forgotten everything, living on proudly as if you were the center of the universe. But time runs fast, bringing forward the moment when you will need to return. It is then that you will start to feel again the power that pulls us down. You will become remorseful about the pride you showed in the past, and will slowly surrender yourself to the power. You will finally answer the call of the ground and return to the place where you were born, to the arms of your parents, which are the place of your origin. … In this way, this ground has loved you, and still does, always with the same amount of power, since even before you were born and until the moment you die. This is the evidence that gravity loves you eternally.”      

-From “Rapport Circus, Opening the Curtains of Fantasy in Reality,” by Hong Gyeong-han

Park Minjoon graduated from the College of Art, Hongik University, Seoul with BA and MA degrees before committing himself as an artist to hyperrealism in his paintings. He was enthralled by the use of colors and light in the painting titled The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Michelangelo da Caravaggio, which eventually turned him towards Western classical paintings. His interest in the techniques of Western classical paintings led him to the Graduate School of the Tokyo University of the Arts where he studied as a researcher on the materials and techniques of painting. He went to New York after completing his research program and stayed there for seven years until 2015, when he returned home and settled in Jeju Island, Korea.

<Exhibition Overview>

Sindoh Cultural Space Park Minjoon Solo Exhibition <Rapport Circus>

Place: Sindoh Cultural Space (3, Seongsui-ro 24-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul)

Date: 2019.5.8 Wed ~ 2019.7.11 Thu

Opening Hours: 10:00 am ~ 5:00 pm (Closed on weekend, public holidays)

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