Nestled in the heart of Seoul, the new artist residency and incubator Artivist is embarking on a mission to ignite the global community—starting with the South Korean capital’s vibrant local scene and featuring as its inaugural artist the globally celebrated Dustin Yellin. This endeavor is envisioned to be a melting pot for art, culture and innovation, serving as a bridge between the traditional and the contemporary, and an intersection where artistic minds and art aficionados collide and collaborate.
Artists gracing the residency will experience cultural immersion, exploring the unique traditions and nuances of Seoul and engaging in dialogues that challenge perspectives and spark inspiration. “Our goal is to create a hub for artistic inspiration and collaboration,” says Afrodet Zuri, Artivist’s curator in residence. “We believe Artivist and artists such as Dustin, will significantly contribute to the dynamic art culture in Seoul.”
Amy Kim, the founder of Artivist, emphasized her excitement on having Yellin. The artist, known for his multidimensional approach (which melds drawing, painting and sculpture), brings forward an enriched experience and deep insight. “His innovative approach to art and commitment to community building align perfectly with our vision for this residency program and patrons group,” Kim says.
Yellin’s exhibition, Spooky Portal, his first solo in Asia, is a symphony of unconventional materials and techniques, each piece a tapestry that defies the constraints of the canvas, exploring themes of human consciousness, societal structures and the human-nature relationship. His works, characterized by a visual complexity, reveal his deep engagement with the world, embodying his ability to intertwine the real with the imagined and the tangible with the ephemeral, offering clear and potent messages about our world.
The intricacies of his art are reflected in pieces like “Understory IV,” which narrates stories through layers of transparent glass material, allowing every detail to be discerned. Here, Yellin plays with contemporary materials, pixels and digital animation, presenting narratives in a temporal manner, contrasting the static nature of traditional art forms.
The artworks feature a rich tapestry of elements drawn from science and pop culture magazines, portraying snapshots of human history, evolution and pop culture. It’s a unique visual representation of humanity’s story, showcasing objects from both the natural and human-made world. Yellin’s approach to creating art is meticulous, with each piece undergoing extensive study and contemplation, ensuring they withstand the test of time.
In the work “Zia Copernicus Falls,” themes of time are prominent, symbolizing fleeting moments through candles and deep time through supernovas—and depicting dynamic representation of water through “Gushette,” symbolizing nature’s strength. Hidden collages in these pieces—Yellin’s second works on canvas ever shown—feature elements absorbed into the painting, hidden within, serving as metaphors for history and the study of time.
His inspirations stem from his extensive travels to the remote corners of the world, where nature serves as his muse, inspiring works that are intriguingly mysterious and thought-provoking, exploring astronomical phenomenon related to deep time. These pieces further explore human intervention in natural elements, including works like “Mesa de Fuego,” representing human interaction with nature through elements of earth’s core, rock and fire. Here, the elements represent adaptation and growth within given environmental parameters, symbolizing night and the phases of illumination through lunar cycles. Despite existing on a single plane, these layered works on canvas have as much depth and discovery as the glass sculptures.
Yellin’s exploration even leads him to collaborate with AI, producing “A Plate Full of Moon,” which depicts a dialogue between him and the AI, incorporating elements from his previous works found online. This interaction results in distinctive pieces adorned with textured landscapes and stylized patterns, integrating crude human interventions symbolized through humorous symbols with natural elements.
Each piece in the collection, interconnected and inspired by one another, represents a dialogue and a revelation, adding a fascinating layer to the Seoul art scene.