SO:EX 7598, Si On,Burial and Sowing, 13 February - 20 March 2021

Burial and Sowing

ArtistSi On
Location T293, Rome
DateFebruary 13 - March 20, 2021
Having experienced a suffocating patriarchal society while growing up in South Korea, Si On (previously know as Hyon Gyon) is interested in exploring the human condition, and especially its oppressing and traumatic characters. Si On’s artistic practice is largely based on shamanism, which stands as a significant part of Korean culture, as well as on her own personal history. By exploring topics such as sociocultural identity, grief, anger and sexual politics, Si On translates her personal experience of trauma into a broad range of formal approaches, creating vigorous and highly expressive paintings and sculptures.
By following surrealist and dada lessons, Si On’s creative process relies predominantly on automatism and instinct while considering artmaking an alternative to therapeutic methods. “What I intend to do is to bring out unexpressed negative feelings and this suppressed negative energy, and convert, reduce, and purify them in order to give them form”, declares the artist. Si On materializes her ideas in a cathartic, almost trancelike state, and the process while creating her artworks is a performance itself.
The mental and physical engagement that the artist doubtlessly devotes to her practice are clear on both her pictorial and sculptural activity. The result are emotional figures surrounded by a disturbed environment, a quality mirrored in the artworks themselves, which are born from the idea of perpetual tension between harmony and decay (or beauty and ugliness).
The exhibition Burial and Sowing presents four sculptures, totemic figures made of assembled assorted media, that emanate a remarkable physicality and reflect the artist’s “maniac” choice of the materials. The plethora of materials and elements contained on the sculptures counts with textual elements, in Korean and English languages, dolls, toys, ceramics and further materials whose identities, as wished by the artist, remain unknown.
Along with the sculptures, a series of portraits are exhibited. The images show a connection with primitive iconography and they draw childlike portraits. Regardless of their vibrant and vivid colors, the pictures are undoubtedly referenced on macabre imagery, on which lies their real, traumatic feelings.
Si On’s practice and artworks intend to function, both for herself and for the viewer as an emotional input for overcoming challenging conditions. “Darkness isn’t the end, it’s a temporary death for a new day” says the artist. Firmly believing in the healing power of art Si On hopes to achieve through her artworks an analogous outcome to the viewers. The exhibition, rather than being a burial, is Si On’s path to sow hope and rebirth stronger – as do the creatures she figures in her works -, on their way out of darkness.
Si On – Burial and Sowing
Si On,Burial and Sowing, 2021
Si On

Burial and Sowing

mixed media
120 × 50 × 55 cm (47 ¼ × 19 ⅝ × 21 ⅝ inches), 120 × 80 × 100 cm (47 ¼ × 31 ½ × 39 ⅜ inches)
Si On,Ha!, 2020
Si On


oil on canvas
240 × 195 cm (94 ½ × 76 ¾ inches)
Si On,Wounded Heart, 2020
Si On

Wounded Heart

mixed media
200 × 165 × 125 cm (78 ¾ × 65 × 49 ¼ inches)
Si On,I lived well, 2020
Si On

I lived well

oil, spray on canvas
240 × 194 cm (94 ½ × 76 ⅜ inches)
A review by Giuseppe Armogida

If we accept that the shaman is that intermediary between the earthly and the otherworldly realm, between men and spirits, between the living and the dead, who, having entered into a state of trance, has the power to soothe suffering and cure diseases, to drive away evil spirits and guide the spirits of the dead into the afterlife, we should not be too far from the truth in saying that Si On is a shaman artist. To verify the relevance of such a claim, just visit Si On’s “grand drama” at T293.

Si On’s paintings and sculptures are materializations of something unrepresentable, incarnations of traumatic traces imprinted in her retina-unconscious. Through an intense process of work, almost in a state of trance, like a shaman, Si On seduces and captures in the liminal space of the work of art the spirits who visit her and all those unexpressed negative feelings – pain, fragility, anxieties and fears, caused by the inscrutability, absurdity and contradictions that human beings face in their lives – that Si On exorcises and buries, to then purify them and convert them into seeds for a rebirth.

Therefore, her art has a cathartic function: Si On leads the viewer back to the fundamental scenes of the Great Theater of the mundus imaginalis (whose cartography is masterfully traced in the painting I lived well), allowing him to look at the depth of things, acquire an overall vision of reality and transform into other forms of energy those dark emotions that could prove harmful to him.

Past Exhibitions