Solo Exhibition

Cody Choi – The Soul of the Silk Road

15.03.2022 – 19.04.2023

Cody Choi - The Soul of the Silk Road

Sevil Dolmacı Art Gallery is proud to present Korean artist Cody Choi’s first solo exhibition in Turkey. The exhibition titled “The Soul of the Silk Road”, which will take place between 15 March – 19 April 2023, is positioned at the intersection of the artist’s personal journey and the rich cultural and artistic heritage of the historical Silk Road.

Having represented his country South Korea at the Venice Biennale in 2017, together with Lee Wan, Cody Choi’s body of work is comprised of a multitude of series. For “The Soul of the Silk Road” Sevil Dolmacı Art Gallery will present works from the “Color Paintings” series on canvas and “Noblesse Hybridige” produced with a special technique on marble in addition to the artist’s striking neon installations. 

Choi lived in the USA between 1983-2003, studied art here at CalArts with Mike Kelley. Choi experiences the difficulties of being an “Asian” in the USA and being an “American” when he returns to his homeland and shares his disappointment in his works. The tendency for “Americanization” that he witnesses upon his return to Korea reinforces this disappointment. The artist’s paintings, sculptures and installation works focus on the conflicts between today’s different cultures and hybrid cultures, together with the endless social phenomena created as a result.

The intercultural communication resulting from the Silk Road in socio-economic, cultural, artistic, and many other fields between the East and the West for centuries and the resulting globalization and hybridization are the focal points of Cody Choi’s works. The “Noblesse Hybridige” series takes its name from the French expression “noblesse oblige”, which means the duty of nobles to treat others with dignity and a good heart. Choi changes the verb in this expression and combines it with the word “hybrid” and creates a new word (hybridige). Thus, the issues of moral responsibility and hybridization come together. The works in the series also appear as an example of aesthetic and cultural hybridization. “Noblesse Hybridige” is formed by adding floral forms belonging to a traditional Korean painting type called “Sagunja” on top of the Rococo style flower paintings that emerged in Europe in the seventeenth century. Choi brings together technically different production styles in this series. Floral motifs in the Rococo style are placed as prints on marble, while in the next step the artist adds Sagunja floral motifs with the traditional brush technique. In this way, flower motifs created in different eras and geographically different regions, in different social, cultural and ideological environments, come together and a hybrid species emerges.

The series named “Color Paintings” in the exhibition and dated to 2016 is shaped by the confusion and anxiety Choi experiences between two different cultures. Writing the names of colors in a different color than what they express impairs the functions of the left brain, which reads the meaning of the word through the mind, and the right brain, which perceives colors and emotions. Through these paintings, Choi invites the viewer to read his paintings from the heart, not from the brain, and reveals that the art of painting can differ visually and conceptually.

Cody Choi’s neon installations, which we are familiar with from the Venice Biennale, deal with the artist’s finding of “foreign Asian” identity in American society. Choi translating the one-line texts he usually quotes from Taoist-themed texts from Chinese to English, then transfers these English single-line texts to Korean neon signs. When these signs are read by a Korean or someone who can read Korean signs, the English string becomes phonetically pronounceable. For Choi, this combination of culture and language reflects his own immigration experience as well as the hybrid culture we experience as humanity today.

“The Soul of the Silk Road” can be seen at Sevil Dolmacı Art Gallery, Villa İpranosyan between March 15 – April 19.

Click for information about Cody Choi