SEOUL — The couple noticed brushes and paint cans in front of a paint-splattered canvas at a gallery in a Seoul purchasing mall. So they additional a handful of brush strokes, assuming it was a participatory mural.
Not very: The painting was a completed do the job by an American artist whose abstract aesthetic riffs on street artwork. The piece is really worth far more than $400,000, in accordance to the organizers of the exhibition that featured the painting.
Now it is really hard to inform exactly where the artist’s do the job ends and the vandalism commences. “Graffitied graffiti,” a neighborhood newspaper headline explained final week.
Both way, the piece, “Untitled,” by John Andrew Perello, the graffiti artist identified as JonOne, is now a magnet for selfies. And on social media, South Koreans are debating what the vandalism illustrates about artwork, authorship and authenticity.
The artwork is displayed with paint cans, brushes and footwear that the artist utilised when he worked on it, one particular of the exhibition’s organizers, Kang Wook, explained in an interview. He additional, “There had been suggestions and a discover, but the couple did not shell out interest.”
Some social media end users have echoed Mr. Kang’s reasoning. Many others say the indicator was puzzling and the couple ought to not be blamed.
A handful of propose that the incident itself was a type of modern artwork, or that the couple’s abstract brush strokes — 3 dark-green blotches covering an place about 35 inches by eleven inches — have enhanced the piece.
The debate is notable in aspect for the reason that the crime was not intentional and the painting can be restored, explained Ken Kim, an artwork restoration specialist in Seoul who has witnessed the vandalized do the job.
The painting is aspect of “Street Noise,” an exhibition that opened at Lotte Planet Mall in Seoul in February and capabilities about 130 artworks by an worldwide group of far more than a dozen graffiti artists. Mr. Kang explained the personnel at the mall observed on March 28 that the painting had been vandalized, and recognized the couple by checking safety footage.
The couple had been arrested but launched right after the police established that the vandalism was accidental, the neighborhood information media reported. Mr. Kang explained the couple advised the police that they had believed the artwork was open to public participation.
The couple have not been recognized and could not be reached for comment.
The artist, JonOne, explained in an interview on Wednesday that he was disappointed and angry that his do the job had been “defaced,” while some people today have explained the publicity could do the job in his favor.
“Art ought to be religious,” he explained. “You really do not paint on a church.”
JonOne explained the vandalism of his do the job in Seoul reminded him of developing up in New York City and the feeling that his talent was not appreciated.
As a teenager, he would indicator his graffiti with the tag “JonOne.” His fashion later on grew to become far more abstract, while he continued to use graffiti lettering as the basis for his do the job. Now 57 and residing in Paris, he has described his aesthetic as “abstract expressionist graffiti,” a nod to Jackson Pollock and other American artists who redefined modern-day painting in the many years right after Planet War II.
Julien Kolly, a gallerist in Zurich who specializes in graffiti artwork and has exhibited JonOne paintings above the many years, explained that they usually prompted powerful reactions from viewers.
“Some are total of praise and many others believe that a kid could do much better,” he explained. “Of program, I am in the initial group.”
Mr. Kolly explained that he wondered why the couple who vandalized “Untitled” in Seoul believed they could “intervene” in an artwork that was hanging in a gallery — but also that he did not believe they meant to “destroy” it.
“I can recognize that people today might have believed that they could, at the incredibly least, do much better than the artist by participating in this do the job,” he additional.
Mr. Kang explained a determination about no matter if to restore “Untitled” would be produced in advance of the exhibition ends on June 13. The restoration could expense about $9,000, he additional, and the insurance coverage business might come across the couple partially liable for the expense.
“But we are concerned,” he additional, “because there are numerous feedback saying that the artwork ought to not be restored, and stay as it is.”