The city is a place where things are constantly changing, with unexpected things happening every day. It can be confusing to see a city changing from one day to the next. But for the people living there, they consider that confusion as part of the fun that the city offers. In his work, illustrator Luis Mendo shows people living freely in the city and finding their own romance. This SMT reporter would like to introduce the exhibition "MUNDO MENDO: Fantastic City Life," which can capture the romance of the city through Luis Mendo's representation.
A new world full of inspiration
Every exhibition contains a story of the artist's life. Luis Mendo, the artist of this exhibition, is a Spanish native who worked as an art director in several European cities for 20 years and now lives and paints in Tokyo, Japan. His experience of visiting different countries and cities is reflected in the urban scenes in his works. With this particular focus on cities, Luis Mendo's work is characterized as "digital analog." This means that he creates all his work on a tablet PC, which gives it a digital aspect, but also an analog sensibility, using pens to express the texture of paper. In this way of digital analog, Mendo shows his "MUNDO," a Spanish word that means "world." Like the title, his works deliver the viewers about different looks of the city from an artist's perspective.
This exhibition is held at GroundSeeSaw Seochon, a complex cultural space located in Tongui-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. To get there from Sookmyung Women's University, you have to take Line 4 from SMWU Entrance Station towards Seoul Station. After that, get off at Chungmu-ro Station and transfer to Line 3 toward Eulji-ro 3-ga. On Line 3, get off at Gyeongbokgung Station and walk through Exit 3 for about 3 minutes to reach GroundSeeSaw Seochon. Tickets cost 15,000 won and can be purchased online in advance on the websites of GroundSeeSaw Seochon, Naver booking, and Interpark Ticket. After having your reservation details confirmed by the staff on the first floor, you can pick up a brochure and go up to the second floor to see the exhibition.
A journey with Mr. Mendo
Throughout the exhibition "MUNDO MENDO: Fantastic City Life," the works are organized according to a set theme on each floor. The theme of the second floor is "Mendo's World" and begins with a two-minute video that explains how Luis Mendo finds inspiration. The video explains that Mendo found inspiration by closely observing objects such as people, animals, and plants commonly found in the city. After the video, there is a space filled with collections of simple sketches of Mendo's inspirations. The drawings of crows catch the viewer's eye because they focus on crows, rather than dogs or cats, which are commonly observed in cities. The theme of the third floor is "City." There are drawings that depict a variety of cityscapes from the artist's perspective. Large cities such as New York, Milan, and Tokyo are portrayed in different compositions and colors, giving the viewer an idea of what Mendo was focusing on when he looked at each city.
The daily lives of modern people are also an integral part of the city. The work titled Rush Hour depicts the subway during the rush hour. The crudely drawn black lines on the background painted in intense yellow convey the frustration that people in the subway might be feeling. This frustration is relieved by the works in the next room, which depict the city after sunset, with sparse lighting. In this space, all the lights are turned off to represent night, leaving only the pictures on the screen to shine. The emptiness of the city, illuminated only by restaurant signs and car headlights, contrasts with the crowded subway cars in the previous section. By focusing on the elements that are commonly observed in the city at night, the artist makes the viewer contemplate everyday life that usually passes them by. On the second and third floors, viewers can observe the artist's travels in various cities around the world. The final fourth floor, titled "People Who Stay at Home," deals with Luis Mendo's observations of his own home after returning from traveling. In Green House, a woman is watering her plants and the sunlight shining on her gives the impression of a relaxed daily life. The fourth floor ends with the presentation of a short comic book Luis Mendo drew for his daughter Tomo. It expresses the affection Mendo has for his family with a note saying, "The center of my activity radius is my home." All of Luis Mendo's favorite elements, from cityscapes to family members, are presented throughout the exhibition.
The exhibition is organized in a way that the viewer can feel like they are traveling with Luis Mendo and then returning home. This makes the viewer feel like they are not only actively observing the works, but also immersing themselves in each work and creating them together with the artist. It is also characterized by a clear theme on each floor based on the artist's travel itinerary, which effectively expresses the artist's intention to convey the romance of the city. This SMT reporter recommends this exhibition to those who want to feel the uniqueness of the city by focusing on the aspects that they have unconsciously passed them by.