SongEun ArtSpace, Seoul,
2 September – 19 November 2011
118-2 Chungdam-Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul
+82 2 3448 0100

This exhibition showcases a selection of 23 works from the François Pinault Collection of contemporary art, marking the first time that works from the collection have been presented in an exhibition in Asia. Focusing upon the central theme of portraiture and the representation of the self, curator Francesca Amfitheatrof selected a highly expressive list of works, which include portraits, statues, busts, mirrors, animals preserved in formaldehyde and photographs by four major contemporary artists: Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Cindy Sherman.

The title “Agony and Ecstasy” refers to both Damien Hirst’s butterfly diptych and Irving Stone’s biographical novel of Michelangelo Buonarroti derived from the Renaissance painter’s correspondence. Inspired by the great master’s depiction of Man, the exhibition proposes to revisit the infinite possibilities of how we perceive each other and ourselves.
The four artists in the exhibition approach this idea but respond to it differently by each embracing a different tendency. Damien Hirst’s existentialist and visceral language is expressed and understood by all. Jeff Koons allows the familiar to become the spectacular, as in the scandalous bust from his 1990’s series Made in Heaven. Takashi Murakami‘s beautifully crafted sculptures expose the exaggerated over-sexuality of manga characters, whilst at the same time playing upon our westernised perceptions of Japanese culture.
Cindy Sherman deals with the obsession we have with defying the effects of time and aging. She candidly scrutinizes at our faces upon which are etched the smallest of tragedies. The portraits by all four artists have forgone the classic sense of depiction and ventured into unknown territory inviting us to reflect, celebrate and question life.