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Korean artist Koo Bohnchang’s series “Masks”, published as issue 9 of Japanese fashion brand Hysteric Glamour’s photobook series, is somewhat of a break in the artist’s career. For the first time, Koo focuses his attention on traditional Korean art and culture, photographing an inventive but eery series of portraits of people wearing Korean “Tal” masks. Traditionally, the men and women who wore such masks were able to pass freely between our world and the world of spirits. These masks provided ordinary people with special power, transforming them into something else. In his photographs, the cultural meaning of the masks becomes another element used by Koo to create multi-layered compositions that play with surrealism, personality, expression, fear and the comical.
The book includes a foreword by the artist as well as an essay by art critic Kotaro Iizawa (in Japanese and English translation).
“The overall phantasmal mood of the work and the feeling that the subjects have cast off the yoke of gravity and float in the air attest rather to his individual sensibility as a photographer. In the end, we see that this series is a unique mixture and merger of record-making and artistic expression, reality and illusion, and the traditional and the contemporary.”
— from Kotaro Iizawa’s essay