I characterized today’s 20-year-olds as a “media generation,” and my work is a process of exploring their identities, and memories of “my youth” are also mixed. The "media generation" refers to the generation that is most sensitive to all the images the media produces. Fiction images created by the media have a huge impact on the lives of young people in their 20s. They imprint on their consciousness or unconsciousness the 'visual identity' gained through images floating in the mass media. The artificially bright and fluorescent images in my work also imply the fictional beauty of idol stars who are in their 20s. They may also reflect young people’s unconscious desire to resemble the stars while taking selfies and doing photoshop. The emergence of idol groups in the K-pop scene in the late 1990s and the rapidly expanding media glamour thanks to the Internet have had a great impact on the notion of beauty, gender identity and consumption style in our society. The advent of the media generation is a symbol of a new cultural trend. The "media generation" is a consumer who is at the forefront of the trend and at the same time is the weakest in the labor market. This includes various and heterogeneous contexts politically and economically. This is sometimes seen as a game of meaning to acts unrelated to each other, or as light and fragmented individualism.

But wanderings of the generation should not be taken lightly. In fact, their wanderings are tearing down all boundaries. They are creating a new level of cultural concepts that go beyond genders, peoples, races, nations and religions. They are free from love, marriage and employment handed down by their parents. They find a new path and act on their own criteria. They seem to lose their identity to the influence of the mass media and standardize on the media’s looks, but they are the protagonists of a new culture. So the time of 'vacuum’ they are dreaming of is a time of 'nourishment' to conceive new paradigm of life. The vacuum appears at the moment when existing order and stereotypes collapse. It could mean the destruction of common sense that we relied on. It also stops the reasons corresponding to existing regulations and customs, and creates a new order. The vacuum lies in unconsciousness, which is an independent mind structure with a pattern of repetitive motion. Memory is 'the survival of past images,' Bergson said. As such, my old memories pop up through some triggers. A song I listen by chance, a movie scene, the image of my son enjoying youth, and many images in the Internet space bring back my old memories and experiences. Some images are linked to another image. Old memories are seen from the present perspective. After selecting some of the images I reconstruct them and color them anew. In this process I meet my young self and meet today's media generation.The memories that pop up to me reflect the ‘involuntary memory’ in Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time’. Images captured at the moment are random and devoid of a uniform format. Past memories and experiences move to the present, then bringing back images of the past. Accordingly, my work is neither in the present nor in the past. Nor is it objective or subjective. In other words, it can only be described as artistic sensibility. It is a process of discovering something more essential than the past and the present. Images scattered like numerous stars twinkling in the night sky are at one point linked together to form a constellation of images and create new shapes.Simply put, my work combines the universality of 20-year-olds with the peculiarity of today's 20-year-olds and gives us a glimpse of our times today.

Translator : Ji, Nanyoung (Professor of English Literature, Korea Polytechnic University)




Social portraits and narcissism in the twenties

Kim, Sung Ho (Art critic)

I.Anxious Neuter-Social Portrait in Twenties
Artist Kim Gyoung-ok paints a social portrait of his twenties. She uses the formative language of pop art that has been reinterpreted by collecting various images of the twenties, which are common in the Internet and popular culture fields. The figure of a person showing a specific situation, the form of figurative depiction with a thin layer of paint, and the background of the geometric pattern placed in contrast behind it, and the effect of illusion that it creates are today's twenties that can be defined as the media age. It is enough to visualize the desire and social portrait of a person as narcissistic.

First, the neutrality contained in the entries is a typical characteristic of today's twenties. Let's think about it. Neutrality does not clearly present the boundary between this and that, but reveals a hybrid relationship that encompasses the boundary of'this/that'. It is like an unclear and uneasy identity of the twenties who have entered adulthood but live in a future where there is no certainty between the minor and the adult. As can be seen in many works, this neutrality visually appears as a mixture of'this/that', such as a girl/boy and shyness/play. In particular, the discernable sexual identities of women and men often remain ambiguous in the neutrality of her works. Let's see a man and a woman standing face to face, wearing the same hairstyle and clothing. These twins reveal the appearances and costumes of neutrality where each other's sexual characteristics intersect. This work seems to be a metaphorical visualization of the present situation in which gender roles are evident.

On the other hand, the characters in Kim Gyoung-ok's many works sometimes laugh or show a quiet smile, but usually reveals a subtle “neutrality” that is difficult to determine what the emotional state is, and that also reveals a state of “anxious neutrality”. It clearly reveals the unstable identity and situation of'twenties who are not laughing even when they are laughing. This is the case with many of the images presented in this exhibition. A young man who indulges in a dangerous adventure walking on a rooftop railing breathtakingly, a back that expresses a firm will despite standing disoriented in front of numerous roads, and a back figure looking for something in front of an unknown atypical situation. The inner character creates an uneasy neutral situation. Usually it is visualized as a state of neutrality in which expressionless, indifference, or'standoff' that mixes both is mixed. With'depression/tranquility' or'still/depression' and'anxiety/excitement' or'anxiety/excitement' mixed together. It deserves to be called “anxious neutrality”.

II. Epistemological practice-do more in spring
Kim Gyoung-ok shows interestingly about her current twenties, who are in and out of choice and abandonment. Her work (Cold, Let's Do in Spring) (2019), which she is showing, is significant. In this work depicting an urgent moment when a pair of men and women take off their clothes in a room, somebody's speech pollutes our imaginations and expectations, and soon makes us vague. "cold. Let's do it in spring.” This is the line of the protagonist in the movie (Little Princess). Not long ago, we called the'N Four Generations' in the twenties who live in a filthy and needy reality like'the situation where even love is impossible because it is too cool.'

The twenties living today desperately feel the cramped employment reality of the young generation while working part-time at a franchise store. In such a reality, the interest and passion for the opposite sex, and the recklessness of spending a day excitedly thinking that it is today instead of tomorrow are melted into their lives. In that sense, “it's cold, let's do it in spring” as the name of the work reveals does not mean giving up. Strictly speaking, it is a “ontological awareness” that faces today's reality, and it implies a “epidemiological plan” for tomorrow. It means "because it's cold, let's do more in spring."

III. Desire and narcissism in media portraits-what if it doesn't shine
The twenties tracked in Kim Gyoung-ok's works are portrayed as being always with the media of the consumer society.It is like the world of social media that contains digital content produced by brands of multinational companies targeting the global market with Nike, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Kenzo, and media such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. Today's twenties, which grew up with the Internet and smartphones, deserve to be called 'Phono Sapiens' as a media generation that cannot live without a smartphone.

The artist traces the phenomenon of fandom in his twenties toward famous idols and popular stars in his recent work depicting portraits of RM and Jimin, members of BTS. Today's twenties don't hesitate to disclose themselves as enthusiastic supporters of popular stars through dug ming-out. Today's twenties' fandom phenomenon is no longer just a passive consumer, but a producer who makes the forefront of fashion.

Of course, the fandom phenomenon that the twenties immerse in is another variation of'self-love'. Their self-love goes beyond the “career fandom,” which is satisfied by proxy while supporting prospective stars, and takes another step toward producing their own “media portrait” under the names of YouTubers, streamers, TikTokger, and BJ. His work 〈I Want to Shine〉 (2020) traces the ‘desire of narcissism in his twenties who want to shine like a jewel’ through a portrait of a woman in her twenties who gazes at the sparkling jewels. The terrible “self-love” is the first starting point of the desire for life.


profile about Kim, Kyoung Ok

Graduate school of Fine Art, Hongik University
Majored in history, Korea University

Solo Exhibition
2020 Solo Exhibition, Love yourself, INSA ART Gallery, Seoul
2019 Invitation Solo Exhibition, Partyum Art Gallery, Incheon
2019 “Time of Vaccum”, Hongik museum of art, Seoul
2018 Korea Art Figuratif Exhibition, Art Center, Seoul
2016 “You are the new day”, CHOI JUNG AH Gallery, Seoul

Group Exhibition
2020 Exhibition of Artist Competition by BT Gallery, BT Gallery, Seoul
2020 INSA-DONG Cutural Festival, 'Hi! Insadong', Cetral Museum, Seoul
2020 Adieu Dystopia, Gallery Artcelsi, Seoul
2020 PLAS 2020, coex, Seoul
2020 LA Art Show, LA Convention Center, Los Angeles
2019 DAEGU ART FAIR, Exco, Daegu
2019 GWANGJU ART FAIR, KIM DAE JUNG Convention Center, Gwangju
2019 Inspiraton Éternelle, KLAF 2019 ROUEN, HALLE AUX TOILES, PARIS
2019 Salon des Indepandants Korea Special Exhibition, Unique Gallery, Seoul
2019 Asia Contemporary Art Show, Conrad Hongkong
2019 Sensory Reason, Insadong, Here We are, H Gallery, Seoul
2018 HASF Hehwa Art Summer Fair, Hehwa Art Center, Seoul
2018 Sensory Reason, Yesterday Today and Tomorrow, H Gallery, Seoul
2018 DELICIOUSLY: AQUA +JAM collaboration, KEPCO Art Center, Seoul
2017 Asia Contemporary Art Show, Conrad Hongkong
2017 Premeir Art Fair, The Excelsior Hongkong
2017 Art Expo, Coex, Seoul
2017 JAM, Topohaus, Seoul
2016 JAM, Insaartcenter, Seoul
2016 Solidarity for Imagination, Gaia Gallery, Seoul

2019 Selected As STANDOUT ARTIST of Asia Contemporary Art Show, Conrad Hongkong
2017 Special Award for Moran Modern Art Exhibition, Songnam Art Center, Seoul
2015 The Grand Prize for Seoul Insa Art Exhibition, Lamer Gallery, Seoul

Artist's social networks
Main Office

Daeneung Building 2F. Gangnamdae-ro 107gil 21,
Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea


+82 2 541 8903

Email us

We're on social networks