+ A

The wild and whimsical world of Jaime Hayon: Spanish artist brings his colorful sculptures and imaginative furniture to Daelim Museum exhibit

May 02,2019
Left: Modern Circus & Tribes is the second room in Daelim Museum’s new “Jaime Hayon: Serious Fun” exhibition in central Seoul, showcasing works from the Spanish artist. The exhibition opened last weekend and will run through Nov. 17. Right top: The Checkmate section features life-sized chess pieces inspired by the Battle of Trafalgar. Right below: The Cabinet of Wonders features 70 small pieces like vases, tea tables and sketches made by Hayon. [DAELIM MUSEUM]
Artist Jaime Hayon rides on his rocking chair sculpture “Green Chicken” (2006) which is now on view at “Jaime Hayon: Serious Fun” at the Daelim Museum in central Seoul. [GRONINGER MUSEUM]
At left is Hayon’s “Sauda (Dark Beauty)” (2017) and at right is “Umi (Life)” (2017). Both glass vessels are part of the “Afrikando” series, which was inspired by decorative African art. [DAELIM MUSEUM]
Spanish artist Jaime Hayon is known for his fantastical crystal sculptures and innovative furniture that showcase his childlike imagination and love of whimsical design.

“I feel like a kid myself,” Hayon said last Friday, just ahead of the launch of his solo exhibition at the Daelim Museum in central Seoul. “I have no problem being [daring].”

At “Jaime Hayon: Serious Fun,” visitors will not only get to revel in the colorful world of Hayon’s imagination, but they will feel as though they have transported to a magical land of pure aesthetic pleasure, far away from the worries of everyday life.

For the exhibition, Daelim Museum temporarily transformed its gallery space into a luxurious - think crystals and ceramics - fun house. Each of the rooms on display has been designed from floor to ceiling to match the seven thematic groups of Hayon’s works being presented at “Serious Fun.”

Personified animals are a running theme, including the artist’s iconic “Green Chicken” (2006), which opens up the exhibition.

The piece, a rocking chair made with lacquered fiber glass and steel, aptly captures the essence of “Serious Fun,” which Hayon says refers to the “seriousness” or “high quality” of the materials used in the work and the “playfulness” of the subject matter.

Hayon is certainly not just playing around with “Crystal Candy Set” (2009), a set of ornamental vases exhibited in the first gallery room, Crystal Passion.

The artist designed the vases in collaboration with Baccarat, a French fine crystal manufacturer. These gem-like pieces strike a fine balance between the luxurious medium of crystal and Hayon’s whimsical inventiveness, taking motifs from common objects like golf balls and tropical fruits like pomegranates.

Hayon mixed in ceramics, one of the most common mediums found in his works, to add an even more textured and playful look to the vases.

“When I started, I had no money, but ceramics are very cheap and look expensive,” said Hayon. “When you make porcelain, you can make something expressive and small, but ceramics also allows you to make monumental things and to draw on top, to give life.”

Hayon has also experimented with glass and metal, as evident in the exhibition’s second space Modern Circus & Tribes. Pieces here bring together African wooden mask-inspired glasswork from Hayon’s “Afrikando” series and circus-themed ceramic vases with metallic finishes from the “Mon Cirque” series.

The next room, Checkmate, is a jaw-dropping exhibit of human-sized, hand-painted chess pieces set across a shiny black-and-white-tiled and mirrored space that looks like it is straight out of a set from a children’s fantasy movie. The pieces are from “The Tournament” (2009), an installation based on the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar designed for the London Design Festival and previously exhibited at the Trafalgar Square in London.

The next few rooms further demonstrate the extensive breadth of Hayon’s works and materials. The artist’s graffiti-like paintings from the “Mediterranean Digital Baroque” series (2013) are showcased in the gallery titled Dream Catcher.

The Cabinet of Wonders gallery is Hayon’s take on Renaissance-era cabinets of curiosities, featuring 70 of his smaller pieces like vases, tea tables and sketches neatly arranged on shelves.

The Furniture Galaxy section offers a taste of a collection of chairs produced by Hayon in collaboration with several high-end furniture brands including Fritz Hansen and BD Barcelona Design.

With his emphasis on art being functional, it’s no surprise that Hayon is well known for his work as a furniture artist.

“Obviously, it has to work,” Hayon said. “This as a vase, that as a table, or that as a symbol, it has to work. For me first is function, then storytelling, then the material.”

The last space, the Hayon Shadow Theater, is making its debut at the Daelim Museum. In a darkened room, characters from Hayon’s pieces displayed in previous spaces are personified and recreated through white standalone installments, seemingly coming to life from the effects created by lighting.

At “Serious Fun,” visitors of all ages can step back into their wildest childhood fantasies, as a host of beautifully eerie rooms and magical beasts are open to enjoy. Daelim Museum also offers several art programs for children to become a magician themselves, create D.I.Y. chess sets and try their hand at shadow theater.

BY KIM EUN-JIN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]

The exhibition runs through Nov. 17. Entry is 10,000 won ($8.60) and 3,000 won for students. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday, with extended hours on Thursdays and Saturdays until 8 p.m.

The “Daelim Museum” mobile app offers guided tours in English and Korean.

For more information, go to http://www.daelimmuseum.org or call (02)-720-0667.