Iron Man Transformation
Exhibition Venue｜Seoul Royal Gallery, Korea
The works exhibited in this solo exhibition adopts steel, a material common to the industrial sector, as a symbol of the social culture of today. In terms of subject matter, the ideal image of a stereotypical bodybuilder is used to respond to the Buddhist concept of a vajra (indestructible) body, which is essentially a body transformed through spiritual practice. This symbol of a strong and brave, indestructible figure with a body of steel appears in all sorts of mediums, be it the Eastern philosophy of the vajra body or the heroes from wuxia (Chinese martial arts) novels, Greek myths, or sci-fi movies.
Therefore, another reason why this series of exhibited works has Steel Men in its title is in response to the secular interpretation of the bodybuilder. The artist adopts the shape of male and female bodybuilders, flexed arms raised, to convey the connotation of a calm and composed, strong, confident, and celebrated figure. Their strong muscles and exaggerated figures project the image of limitless strength and power. At the same time, as outlined images fashioned from laser-cut steel sheets, it’s not so much that these shapes are hollow, but rather it can be said that these lines define or frame the space at their core, granting meaning to these lines in the real world.
Is a body of steel the ideal for the future of industrial civilization? Or will it become a symbol of vapid hollowness? The steel outlines of Liu’s Steel Men series serve as observations into the transformation of the space both inside and outside the lines.
– Written by Han Jin-Hee (Curator of Seoul Royal Gallery)