By Declan Robb
Garoo’s name comes from an old Korean animation in which one of the characters would often pulverize things into Garoo (dust or particles). Garoo is one of the most experienced artists in the scene and uses a range of materials and styles to convey his often complex message. His work deals with a wide range of issues and subjects; ranging from social and environmental to the human body. The loud explosive nature of his art and name are very different from the quiet, humble artist I interviewed.
Coming from a graphic design background, Garoo was unaware of street art culture until an advertising executive friend suggested using street art and graffiti in one of his campaigns, he turned to Garoo for help and advice and through his research he became involved in the scene.
Amongst his influences Garoo considers the work of all artists as valuable and inspirational to all members of the community. His work is also impacted by fashion, music and plays.
When I asked Garoo about the Korean influence on his work, he told me “The Korean style has always been in my work”, he has previously experimented with Hangul and incorporating Korean lettering into his work.
Street art can be used as a forum for the discussion of many important issues, so what does Garoo consider to be the message of his work; “My work is about everything; the current situation in the world, society, the environment.”
A look at Garoo’s work suggest that his art is not merely about brightening up derelict buildings; rather his art expresses ideas and opinions about modernity and contemporary Seoul life. Concepts of nature in relation to city life are quite clear, though the artist is extremely shy and modest about discussing his work, I get the impression his work is designed to be much deeper than the first look suggests.
Garoo’s work is quite unconventional; the end results are often very striking. His uniqueness comes form his experimental nature of working. “I am interested in the side effects” referring to the splattering’s and splashes which occur whilst using various forms of paint. He has also worked with bandages, tapping into ideas about surgery and the human body. He continues to incorporate different objects and materials into his work.
Garoo views the Seoul Urban Art Project as extremely important, not just for street art but for the development of Korean art in general. “I hope that the SUP will help people to understand and accept street art so it can fulfill it aims and goals.”
“The public react to my art in different ways; some people see it and like it, others just pretend they didn’t see it.” Garoo hopes that in the future people will begin to understand and accept the aims and goals of street art and appreciate it.
As for his own future in the street art movement Garoo hopes that a new technique of producing work is developed, making it safer for the artist to produce their pieces without having to use ladders.
As for his own personal future? “I’m not too sure…I just want to continue expressing myself and my art in many experimental ways.”