B0NA F1DE: Unrevealed Secrets
This July, we proudly presented our group exhibition in Seoul, South Korea.
Three artists of B0NA F1DE were featured: Anatolie Dascălu, Orukotan Jemilohun, and Arapysandú Salvatierra.
Sun Art Space in Seoul, South Korea opened a group exhibition "B0NA F1DE: Unrevealed Secrets" in late July. "B0NA F1DE", formed in 2020, is a collective of artists who seek the pluralism of contemporary art beyond the mainstream culture. A literal translation of the English word "bona fide" derived from Latin means "in good faith" and is commonly used as a meaning of "true". As the group name suggests, the artists of B0NA F1DE seek to express their truth through the medium of art beyond the apparent phenomenon.
Romanian painter Anatolie Dascălu has a rather unique biography. Dascălu started his career as an architectural designer but drifted as an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler. He entered alcohol rehab in 2008 and happened to find his talent for painting during art therapy sessions. Since then, he has been establishing his career as a full-time artist. Dascalu reveals a subject matter with provocative visuals. His representative work, "Stillborn Free," presented in this exhibition, expresses his longing for freedom through the image of stillborn babies staring at the viewer. The artist said, "we have no freedom from the very moment we were born. Babies on the canvas are free from the burden of consciousness and body in the first place. They do not have to contend with the physical limitations of a body and the tormenting burden of mortality. In my eyes, the stillborn babies are the freest." As such, Dascălu's pieces reflect his intense and strange thirst for freedom.
Arapysandú Salvatierra is a Paraguayan painter and musician from Asunción. As a synesthete, Salvatierra experiences an involuntary joining of her sensory perceptions–particularly hearing and vision. Her paintings are characterized by their exuberant colors and forms inspired by nature. Salvatierra said "every life form is a window through which the universe sees and perceives itself. Through the immensity of time and aleatorism, molecules have morphed into living organisms and experience the universe on their own. When I make art, I feel like being a tiny cell of the cosmos." Her series "Fuga de la Tierra" presented in this exhibition is the experiment of her sensory panorama. Salvatierra, who had previously worked while listening to human music, visualized the sounds of nature that she heard and felt while traveling during the pandemic in the highlands, mountains, and jungles of Paraguay.
Orukotan Jemilohun, a native of the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria, describes himself as "the court painter of the forgotten." The artist's portraits have one thing in common: the facial features of the depicted human figures are blurred to the point of being indistinguishable. Jemilohun explains that "the anonymity of African art" was the reason he began drawing blurry portraits. "Although several galleries and museums around the world house African artworks, the authorship of these pieces remain largely unknown," Jemilohun said, "In the art market, the artist's name value rather than the work itself determines the price tag. And yet, artworks from Africa are rather treated as artifacts. No one really cares who made it—not even visitors and collectors," pointing out the difference between how mainstream artists and marginalized artists are viewed.
Jonghyun Jee, the curator of this exhibition, weaves together the different artists and their works under the theme of "unrevealed secrets." Jee said "although these artists have disparate backgrounds and styles of painting, the three artists have one thing in common. Jemilohun debunks the unnoticed secret of the contemporary art scene, Dascălu reveals the innermost, ugly feelings of us, and Salvatierra captures the imagery of nature that is invisible to the majority of people." According to Jee, the B0NA F1DE exhibition allows Korean audiences to experience the works of artists from relatively marginalized cultures.