Using hundreds of bicycle chains, Korean artist Young-Deok Seo assembles massive human heads. These mesmerizing three-dimensional portraits possess a unique puzzle-like texture that is achieved by attaching these small metal links. And while this material aptly represents restraints and the industrialization of labor, it also gives these enigmatic face sculptures a unique lifelike quality.
From entire heads to mask-like pieces, Seo has a masterful way of utilizing this unconventional material. Somehow, he is able to render eyes, noses, and mouths with exceptional realism, making it seem as though these faces are casts of real people. Each link is also an imperfect piece of the entire puzzle, creating an intriguing texture and pattern on the face. Seo's sculptures are highly surreal, toeing the line between realism and abstraction. They look incredibly lifelike, capturing the human form and features with remarkable accuracy, yet it is still very clear that these are not real beings due to its metallic components.
The choice of material and its symbolism of modern industrialization is at the core of Seo's work. These heads can only be constructed by interlinking the pieces together, literally fettering the art to the chains themselves. “We are interlocked and running like parts of a giant machine. Just like its components, we hang in there day after day as a gray man living in the periphery. And we are not allowed to be a protagonist of our own very life,” he says. “I want to show, through my works, the portraits of our time where personal thoughts and lives are ignored.”
For updates on upcoming exhibitions and sneak peaks into his process, you can follow Seo on Instagram.