Couple Who Defaced $400,000 Painting Thought It Was a Public Art Project

SEOUL — The couple noticed brushes and paint cans in entrance of a paint-splattered canvas at a gallery in a Seoul shopping center. So they added a few brush strokes, assuming it was a participatory mural.

Not fairly: The portray was a completed work by an American artist whose summary aesthetic riffs on road artwork. The piece is value greater than $400,000, in accordance with the organizers of the exhibition that featured the portray.

Now it’s laborious to inform the place the artist’s work ends and the vandalism begins. “Graffitied graffiti,” a native newspaper headline mentioned final week.

Either approach, the piece, “Untitled,” by John Andrew Perello, the graffiti artist generally known as JonOne, is now a magnet for selfies. And on social media, South Koreans are debating what the vandalism illustrates about artwork, authorship and authenticity.

The art work is displayed with paint cans, brushes and sneakers that the artist used when he labored on it, one of many exhibition’s organizers, Kang Wook, mentioned in an interview. He added, “There were guidelines and a notice, but the couple did not pay attention.”

Some social media customers have echoed Mr. Kang’s reasoning. Others say the signal was complicated and the couple shouldn’t be blamed.

A number of recommend that the incident itself was a type of modern artwork, or that the couple’s summary brush strokes — three dark-green blotches protecting an space about 35 inches by 11 inches — have improved the piece.

The debate is notable partly as a result of the crime was not intentional and the portray will be restored, mentioned Ken Kim, an artwork restoration professional in Seoul who has seen the vandalized work.

The portray is a part of “Street Noise,” an exhibition that opened at Lotte World Mall in Seoul in February and options about 130 artworks by a global group of greater than a dozen graffiti artists. Mr. Kang mentioned the workers on the mall seen on March 28 that the portray had been vandalized, and recognized the couple by checking safety footage.

The couple have been arrested however launched after the police decided that the vandalism was unintended, the native information media reported. Mr. Kang mentioned the couple informed the police that that they had thought the art work was open to public participation.

The couple haven’t been recognized and couldn’t be reached for remark.

The artist, JonOne, mentioned in an interview on Wednesday that he was upset and indignant that his work had been “defaced,” though some individuals have mentioned the publicity might work in his favor.

“Art should be religious,” he mentioned. “You don’t paint on a church.”

JonOne mentioned the vandalism of his work in Seoul reminded him of rising up in New York City and the sensation that his expertise was not appreciated.

As a teenager, he would signal his graffiti with the tag “JonOne.” His model later turned extra summary, though he continued to make use of graffiti lettering as the muse for his work. Now 57 and residing in Paris, he has described his aesthetic as “abstract expressionist graffiti,” a nod to Jackson Pollock and different American artists who redefined trendy portray within the years after World War II.

Julien Kolly, a gallerist in Zurich who makes a speciality of graffiti artwork and has exhibited JonOne work through the years, mentioned that they usually prompted robust reactions from viewers.

“Some are full of praise and others think that a child could do better,” he mentioned. “Of course, I am in the first category.”

Mr. Kolly mentioned that he puzzled why the couple who vandalized “Untitled” in Seoul thought they may “intervene” in an art work that was hanging in a gallery — but in addition that he didn’t suppose they meant to “destroy” it.

“I can understand that people may have thought that they could, at the very least, do better than the artist by participating in this work,” he added.

Mr. Kang mentioned a resolution about whether or not to revive “Untitled” could be made earlier than the exhibition ends on June 13. The restoration might price about $9,000, he added, and the insurance coverage firm might discover the couple partially accountable for the fee.

“But we are concerned,” he added, “because there are many comments saying that the artwork should not be restored, and remain as it is.”

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