The true virtue of modern art

Art December 08, 2014 01:00

By Lee Ji-yoon
The Korea Herald

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"Dunny" creator Chris Riggs enthrals the audience at the recent Herald Design Forum



Chris Riggs, a New York-based artist who is best known for its art toy “Dunny,” stresses the power of modern art that changes the way people feel, think and act.
“Modern art has no boundaries. If you can think it, you can make it happen,” he says. “Everyone is born an artist. I just continued to be an artist, making art my life’s work.”
The 40-year-old artist gave a special lecture during the Herald Design Forum 2014 at Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza on November 26.
A former “street boy” who enjoyed spraying graffiti on the walls, Riggs is now considered one of the leading artists of his generation.
“I didn’t understand why painting on the walls was illegal while those drawn thousands years ago were considered national treasures,” he says. “We did it anyway and now street art has become a form of art.”
His artworks, a unique combination of cubism, abstract, surrealism, minimalist, pop and street art, are currently owned by international museums, galleries and collectors in some 50 countries.
His most famous work may be the Dunny, a black doll with a round head, arms, legs and torso with the word “love” all over this body in pink, orange and yellow. One of the pieces was sold for a record US$50,000 recently.
“We are all kids at heart and have played with toys during our childhood. Remembering those warm moments playing with toys as a kid evokes positive emotions,” he says.
In order to make positive changes in our society, Riggs suggests that not just aspiring artists but also every adult become a rebel in their daily lives.
His most-recent rebellious act was hanging up “Chris Riggs for Mayor” posters on walls and poles all over New York and Miami.
“Only politicians are allowed to hang their names all over the city but artists can be arrested. That seems unfair to me,” he says.
“Art is about new ideas and free thinking beyond the boundaries set by society. Our job is to come up with new ideas that make our world better.”
Riggs, who has created artworks based on a single theme – love and peace – does not hesitate to openly voice concerns about social issues such as war, poverty and food safety.
“We must change the way we take our planet for granted and learn to respect all these gifts that nature gives us,” he says. “One great design idea can save the planet. The idea of peace can save us all.”
Before giving a talk, Riggs painted a “Love and Peace” mural on the wall of Herald Design Forum headquarters in Herald Square in Seoul.
Riggs was born in New York in 1973. He studied painting and political science at City College of New York. He executes his political city-based paintings and sculptures in acrylic and spray paint. He now lives and works in Miami and New York.