Friday, March 31, 2023
HomeEntertainmentBTS superstar RM also ventures into art patron

BTS superstar RM also ventures into art patron


- Advertisement -

RM, the leader of BTS, visited Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan for the first time for a performance on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. It was early 2020, before the coronavirus lockdown, and the seven-member South Korean pop group, accompanied by a large crew of dancers, enthusiastically sang and danced to their single “ON” in the middle of the night in the empty lobby of train station.

Late last year, RM returned to the site as a “civilian”. “It was very strange to be at Grand Central for the second time in the midst of so many people,” he told me one recent afternoon in a conversation at the headquarters of Hybe, the entertainment company behind his boy band, in Seoul. On the second visit, he said, “I went with my friends, like a simple traveler paying his way.” They boarded a Metro North train for a visit to Dia Beacon, the minimalist art mecca in the Hudson River Valley. “It’s a utopia,” he said. There is a room on site devoted to his favorite artist, On Kawara, who has devoted his career to painting stark pictures in dark colors that bear the date of their creation in white text.

- Advertisement -

Dia Beacon was just the latest stop in the long artistic journey that RM, 27, has been on in recent years as he builds his collection and thinks about creating a space for art. BTS’ ardent fans (who define themselves as “Army”) are inspired by his social media posts and press reports about him to follow in his footsteps, which increases the frequency of places RM visits. Veteran art dealer Park Kyung-mee sees the singer and rapper as responsible for making art more accessible to the general public. “He’s breaking down the kind of barrier that exists between art institutions — galleries and museums — and younger people,” she said at her gallery, PKM, in Seoul.

RM has also been taking on the role of patron of art, lending one of his sculptures, a terracotta horse by Korean artist Kwon Jin-kyu, to the Seoul Museum of Art for a retrospective that will run through May and into 2020. he donated 100 million won (equivalent at the time to US$84,000 or R$425,000 at current exchange rates) to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of South Korea (MMCA). The South Korean Art Council, a government-affiliated body, later honored him with the distinction of “art sponsor” of the year. “We are very happy that RM, who has a lot of influence around the world, is an art lover,” said Youn Bummo, the director of the MMCA, in an email.

- Advertisement -

The reach of this worldwide influence is almost incalculable. BTS’ YouTube channel has over 70 million subscribers (another K-pop band, Blackpink, is the single most followed group), and RM has 37 million Instagram followers. A 35-minute video he recorded about his visit to Art Basel, an art fair in Switzerland, in the third quarter of last year has been viewed nearly six million times. For the insular and impenetrable world of art, RM could be an ideal ambassador.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that his passion for visual art came about by “coincidence, more like an accidental meeting,” said RM, whose real name is Kim Namjun. (He formally adopted his stage name in 2017, dropping the Rap Monster alias he used until then.) RM grew up near Seoul, and his parents “would take me to museums, but I don’t think I liked that very much,” he said. . Sitting in his hotel room during a 2018 tour, trying to decide what to do to enjoy a few hours off, RM chose to venture out on a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. The paintings of Seurat and Monet captivated him. “It was almost like Stendhal’s syndrome,” he said, referring to a condition that causes art to induce physical symptoms in the viewer, for example a feeling of vertigo or a rapid heartbeat. For him, it was a shock to see in person works that he only knew through reproductions. “And I thought, Wow! There I was, looking at these works of art, and it was an amazing experience.”

Whenever our conversation turned to art, the musician, already usually energetic, became even more animated; he had the help of an interpreter, but he usually began to speak directly in English whenever the subject came up. (RM is very fluent in the language, which he said he learned from watching “Friends.”) “I left school at 17, because of this BTS thing, because I had to focus on my preparation,” he said, mentioning one list of things you needed to learn to be part of the band. “But after 10 years, I discovered art, and I started reading books again – and seriously.” He is charismatic and a quick learner, and it would be easy to imagine him as an effective politician, or a much-loved and somewhat eccentric teacher.

RM has been a collector since he was a child: stamps, coins, Pokémon cards, rare (“but not expensive”) stones, and later dolls. He has a KAWS Companion doll in his art-filled recording studio in Hybe’s headquarters building, but most of his artwork is older. His desktop computer is installed on a desk by George Nakashima, and on the wall behind it hangs a minimalist abstract painting by Yun Hyong-keun — just three luminous masses of paint. One of the walls displays more than 20 works, many of them by important Korean artists of the 20th century such as Park Soo Keun, Chang Ucchin and Nam June Paik.

The overseas tours underlined to RM that “my roots are in Korea,” he said, which is why the singer has centered his collection on works by artists from his country, especially the generations that lived through the Korean War, the military dictatorship and the period of immense economic precariousness. These are artists who continue to be little known outside of Korea. (Other pop stars prefer works by much better-known artists, according to art dealers.) “It was important to me to feel their sweat and blood,” RM said, and to relate to artists “as human beings seeking to show your art to the world”.

The leader of BTS gives the impression of being gifted with an ancient soul. When I asked him to define his artistic taste, he said that what appeals to him is art about “eternity,” and that this is because of the frenetic and ephemeral aura of the K-Pop industry. His interest is in the past, but even so, RM has been trying to learn about newer art. (His solo musical work, in stark contrast, has a texture very tied to the moment, almost experimental.) He posted images of a visit to a summer show in the N/A space, organized by Dooyong Ro, an emerging gallery owner, who said that some people assumed that the star had bought the work that illustrated the “post”. That’s not what happened. But RM’s post led visitors to the site, even without identifying him by name, and the ever-present Army located Ro’s space account, called Cylinder, on Instagram, the gallery owner said. “How did they find this out?”

Surrounded by works by great artists of the past, most of whom are now dead, RM said that “I feel like they’re watching me. I’m motivated. I want to be a better person, a better adult, because of the aura that comes from these artworks on display. “. When he feels “tired or let down, I sometimes stand there and have a conversation” with them, RM said. The singer said he stands in front of a painting of Yun and asks, “Mr. Yun, everything is going to be all right, isn’t it?

RM is trying to decide his future. Mandatory military service awaits. (The band members are devoting time to solo projects at the moment, though their label has insisted that BTS is not on hiatus.) A few months ago, RM told Marc Spiegler, global director of Art Basel, on the fair’s podcast. , who is thinking about opening an art space of some sort. “I want it to be really calm and quiet, but it should still look cool, like Axel,” he told me, quoting Belgian designer, antique dealer and gallery owner Axel Vervoordt (also a favorite of one of RM’s musical inspirations, Kanye West) .

That idea is still far from being realized, but RM envisions a ground-floor cafe and exhibition areas above, showcasing work by Korean and international artists in ways that appeal to young people. “I think there’s something I can offer as an outsider to the art industry,” he said.

It may well be that this outsider status is something he will have to give up. RM recently acquired a cast glass cylinder of Roni Horn – a spectral white, partially translucent piece – and is gaining fame as an art connoisseur. Park, the Seoul-based art dealer, said RM found texts about Yun that her gallery didn’t have in its archives. (She represents Yun’s estate, and became part of the “Army” years ago, before being introduced to RM. “I started studying the band through YouTube,” she said. “There’s a lot of content. It takes a lot, plenty of time to master it”.)

Yun had a terrible life, according to what RM told me. Arrested four times for political reasons, he narrowly escaped a death sentence on one such occasion. After turning 40, Yun began to paint meditative pictures, smearing large strips of thinned paint, in shades of ocher and blue, onto linen or canvas. “It’s a complete combination of Western and Eastern, or Asian or Korean styles,” said RM.

Does he have a favorite era, between periods of the painter’s work? “I started out really liking his works from the 1970s, his paintings, but now I’m so interested in him, in his world, in his artwork, that I love everything. I’ve stopped being objective,” said RM. “Now I’m what people call a fan.”

- Advertisement -

Related articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected


Latest posts