Gareth Fuller’s artworks are available as a special signed edition of 1,000 affordable silkscreen prints with a view to making the work more accessible to those outside the art world’s usual circles.
There are also a limited number of special edition coloured prints available- certainly Fuller is an artist worth following and very collectable. Please contact us for sales.
Based on two weeks spent walking through as much of Pyongyang as is possible for a tourist — accompanied by North Korean guides at all times; as per this one-party state’s strict rules for foreigners — FULLER’s Pyongyang pulls back the curtain on a city so routinely shrouded in mystery. His work is illustrative and graphical, the black ink creating a kaleidoscope of pictographs, architecture, patterns and cultural curiosities, all combining to create both literal and hidden narratives.
North Korea’s capital is one of the most-discussed but least-visited cities on Earth. And so FULLER’s work seeks to share the sensation of being there as a tourist — acknowledging the reality that his and our interaction as foreigners in such a tightly controlled place is certainly one with set limits. Those watching Pyongyang through the prism of network news will perhaps be drawn to FULLER’s images of familiar headline-grabbing sites such as Kim Il Sung Square and the pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel.
But it’s the small details the artist discovered in person, and that he subsequently shares here, that will endlessly absorb audiences — whether they’ve been there themselves or not — alongside the stories of the city itself, home to millions of people, each with hopes, aspirations, desires, and dreams — universal traits that bind us all. “Hopefully Tourist Map Of Pyongyang encourages pause for thought, and a consideration of the city, minus the headlines, but with a view to its culture and people,” says FULLER. “If this work starts a conversation then it has served its purpose as art.”
It’s the latest piece in his ‘Purposeful Wanderings’ series: a 15-year-long artistic odyssey to document his understanding of the world through what he describes as “maps of the mind” — visual representations of the significant places he’s explored; FULLER uses archival pigmented ink on cotton board to tell stories about identity and culture while playing with our ideas of cartography, illustration and psychogeography.
“Unlike ordinary maps, my monochrome works are fairly useless for navigation and better for capturing a sense of place, and to understand the chaos in my mind,” says FULLER. “I endeavour to make sense of my investigations and experiences, using my drawings to communicate with you.”
This endeavour began with London Town (2005-2015) — prints of which have been acquired by The British Library and the Museum Of London — and led to FULLER moving to Beijing where he spent a year walking some 1,350km around the city before turning his wanderings into a 120 x 150 cm meditation on 21st-century life in China’s capital. Beijing (2018) is currently on display at The British Ambassador’s Residence.
Gareth J. Fuller
Working in Pyongyang, however, would turn the artist’s usual methodology completely upside down.
“Typically my process begins with unbridled exploration without boundaries or borders,” says FULLER. “I wander freely — a type of dé r ive — and enjoy abundant access to the landscape around me. North Korea’s capital proved to be the opposite experience. Scheduled and tightly planned, I would walk well-trodden routes as I was invited to marvel, like the tourists before me, at the socialist wonderland.”
Limited freedom to explore and strict rules to obey led FULLER to collide with entirely new challenges when returning home to his drawing board. “I felt uncomfortable with the task ahead of me. But it was also an exciting place to be with my work. And so I began to deposit drawings as memories. They depict the things I saw: a collection of gathered stories and experiences; cultural deposits; reflections on design, form, shape and pattern; an investigation of the city as presented to me.”
Tourist Map Of Pyongyang (2019) was produced with the support of Koryo Studio — a British-run initiative helping international creatives gain access to and understanding of North Korea, including the likes of Magnum photographer Carl De Keyzer (for his series DPR Korea: Grand Tour) and Michael Palin (for the BAFTA-nominated documentary Michael Palin In North Korea) .