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Enigmatic artist David Rappeneau's first Asia show taking place at Gladstone Gallery

By Park Yuna

Published : Nov. 20, 2023 - 16:22

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"Untitled" by David Rappeneau (Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery)

David Rappeneau’s drawings are peculiarly attractive. Some younger audiences may find the images familiar as they view young men and women smoking or looking at a smartphone screen in a sketchy part of town. The subjects in Rappeneau's work look free, but for some reason, they also appear to be lonely or in agony.

Not much is known about Rappeneau, who has remained enigmatic since emerging in the art world in 2014 as a provocative illustrator. What is known so far is that Rappeneau is a French male artist, based mostly in Europe, according to Gladstone Gallery, which is hosting his first show in Asia.

An installation view of An installation view of "David Rappeneau: Special K" at Gladstone Gallery in Seoul (Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery)

The scarcity of information about the artist has provoked curiosity, eliciting numerous questions about his works. Created with ball-point pens, charcoal pencils, acrylic markers and acrylic paints, Rappeneau's pieces depict young people in a city often caught in exaggerated gestures. The cities depicted in his work are reminiscent of New York City, Amsterdam or other places, depending on the viewer's own experiences.

His works might remind those familiar with Seoul of Euljiro, a small neighborhood in central Seoul known as “hipjiro.” Formerly a neighborhood of printers and small metalworks shops, this shabby part of downtown Seoul has become a hot spot for young hipsters with many of its old buildings having been turned into restaurants and bars.

Gladstone Gallery in Seoul unveiled 15 recent drawings by the artist created from 2022 to the present. The US gallery opened a space in southern Seoul in 2022 and is the gallery’s first space in Asia.

“I would say Seoul is a perfect place to experiment with something new as the audiences are quite open-minded and trendy. This is why many international galleries, including us, have come to Seoul,” said Kang Ju-hee, senior director at Gladstone Gallery in Seoul.

“We are glad that we opened David Rappeneau’s first-ever exhibition in Asia in Seoul. Some Korean collectors are showing interest in his drawings while his works are quite popular in the US and Europe,” Kang added.

The exhibition’s title, “Special K,” was inspired by the title of a single by British alternative rock band, Placebo, which was released in 2001. The exhibition runs through Jan. 13, 2024.