In Venice, Seo Young-Deok's dystopias at the Misericordia church

Dystopia is the title of Seo Young-Deok ’s solo exhibition on view from March 27 to April 14, 2019 at the Chiesetta della Misericordia in Venice, organized by Liquid Art System, an international gallery group based in Capri. The exhibition, curated by Angelo Crespi, consists of nine stainless steel sculptures depicting human bodies. Dystopia indicates the metaphor of a place that is no longer dear to man, a utopia in reverse, where humans become mechanisms of a device that presses and crushes them. The exhibition develops around the concepts of fullness and emptiness, harking back to ancient Western culture and Eastern philosophies: on the one hand, symbols of the beauty of the form that remains, on the other, the emptying of humanity grappling with an increasingly inhuman contemporary world.

For his first exhibition in Venice, Franco Senesi, CEO of Liquid Art System, chose an exceptional location, the Chiesetta della Misericordia. One of the most striking places in the Serenissima for contemporary art, a great history built century after century: from the Byzantine period, to Gothic architecture during the Middle Ages, to the Baroque. The works on display continue the dialogue between different eras and cultures. Composed and at the same time imprisoned by iron chains, Seo’s works explicitly refer to industrial technology, translating through the recovery and reassembly of bicycle chains, into faces and figures. The sculptures, belonging to the Meditation, Anguish and Nirvana series, appear sinuous and melancholy: faceless characters afflicted by the disease of mechanization and industrialization of today’s society.

Born in 1983, Seo Young-Deok graduated fromSeoul University’s Department of Environmental Sculpture in 2008 and makes life-size hyper-realistic sculptures of human figures made exclusively from welded chains fashioned from industrial machinery and bicycles. Through his creative reworking of the iron chain, an element that has played a central role in the development of the industrial world, Seo explores the relationship between humans and their environment. The artist was influenced by the stark contrast between his rural upbringing in Korea and the urban lifestyle he later experienced as an adult. Seo Young-Deok is primarily concerned with the human body, and through his works , he elaborates narratives of human and life stories, argued through the poses and expressions of his figures. Seo Young-Deok regards humanity as the essential element and main motif of his work.His production consists of figures representing the human body in various dimensions, each with its own story and expression. Seo Young-Deok sculpts both male and female subjects in a range of poses and postures, from carved heads to busts, torsos, and standing figures. Most of the figures he depicts are nude and faceless: although formed from welded steel, they almost appear to be carved or molded from a malleable material. In contrast, his sculptures are made by welding together individual pieces of iron, and Young-Deok Seo is faithful to conventional methods of drawing, modeling, casting and welding to create his pieces, and he personally completes all the finishing touches.

The artist has been represented by the Liquid Art System gallery since 2014, and his sculptures have recently been exhibited in prestigious locations on the island: from the marina, to Marina Grande, to Capri’s famous Piazzetta.

The opening is set for March 27 at 6:30 pm. The exhibition, among the major art events preceding the busy calendar of the 2019 Biennale, will be open until April 14. For all information you can email

Pictured: Seo Young Deok, Stainless chain, Anguish series (2018), cm. 58x95x87 h, 91 kg

Source: press release

In Venice, Seo Young-Deok's dystopias at the Misericordia church
In Venice, Seo Young-Deok's dystopias at the Misericordia church

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