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Can You Blame Them?

April 9, 2021
abstract painting

Detail with black paint

In 2016, the American graffiti artist JonOne painted an extremely large work (7.8 x 22.9 feet) in front of an audience at the Lotte World Mall in Seoul, South Korea. The artist then left cans of paint and brushes in front of the work as part of the display.

According to an article in the Daily Mail, recently, a couple looking at the work thought the brushes and paint were there for people to use, so they added a few large strokes of black paint. My first questions are, how did they use paint and brushes sitting there for five years? Does the paint take a very long time to dry?

After they walked away, the couple was arrested by the mall’s police but subsequently released since their actions appeared to be an ‘honest mistake.’

I bet that their addition to the work only added to its value since it gave the artist and the piece a great deal of publicity. Hmm … was this a publicity stunt?

I did write to JonOne and he was kind enough to reply:

Honestly … At first, I told myself: what is this shit?

But I quickly realized their misunderstanding by watching the video…

I said: OK… “with just three brush strokes on my canvas, they have managed to cause a planetary buzz?!?” There is strength in that.

It made me think about how in today’s world we are all so closely linked and I hope someday to have the opportunity to drink tea with them in Korea…

maybe i’ll tell them… thank you.


Maybe this was not a publicity stunt?

Anyway, if you would like to see the couple hard at work, you can view the security video through the link below.

Source: The moment S. Korean couple accidentally DEFACED $500k artwork because it featured ‘left over’ wet brushes on the floor that they thought were for ‘participatory art’

Source: Young couple mistakenly vandalizes $440,000 painting in South Korea