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Toys as art

Michael Lau AR+OY exhibition poster. (Eyagi Entertainment/Crazysmiles)

Publication Date : 12-02-2013


Michael Lau’s art toy collections on view in Seoul


Toys as playthings has long been a bygone perception. They have become objects to admire for adults who treat them as valuable collectibles on the same level as artwork, including more than 100,000 fans of Michael Lau’s art toy collections worldwide.

The Hong Kong-based artist’s famous toy collections have arrived in Seoul for the first time amid much anticipation from local fans.

Making vinyl figures into the most sought-after toy collection in the world, Lau is considered a pioneer in the field of designer toy figure with his “Gardner” series and collaborations with famous commercial brands as well as entertainment and fashion industries.

The celebrated artist’s first exhibition in Korea features about 1,000 pieces including his signature “Gardner” series figures, sketches, drawings and paintings.

“The exhibition shows that art toys are a popular genre of art. It not only appeals to a small number of collectors or fans, but also to the mass public. I hope the exhibition broadens genres of art perceived by young people and allows them to find fun and humor in it,” said Choe Yo-han, art director of the exhibition.

The exhibition features a total of 133 characters of the “Gardner” series, displayed independently so that viewers can examine the detailed and uniquely dressed figures.

Viewers can also take a peak at how the characters are developed and the figure-making process.

The 12-inch figures, wearing hip-hop-inspired accessories and clothes, have largely appealed to people who are into street culture and hip-hop culture, and later captured a wider audience’s interest as they began to be featured in entertainment, sports and fashion. Lau has collaborated with major popular brands such as Nike, Levi’s and Sony.

With his recent interest in K-pop, Lau created models inspired by Korean boy groups TVXQ and SHINee.

The Chinese artist began his career as a window display artist and started his comic series “Gardner” in the East Touch magazine in 1988. He rose to instant stardom as he turned the comic characters into 3-D forms at the Hong Kong Art Centre in 1999.

The exhibition is organised by Eyagi Entertainment and Crazysmiles, and sponsored by Gana Art, Hyundai Department Store and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office’s consultant in Seoul.

The exhibition “Michael Lau AR+OY Exhibition” continues through April 14 at the Sejong Center Exhibition Hall. Tickets are 12,000 won (US$11) for adults, 10,000 for teenagers ($9) and 6,000 won ($5) for children. For more information, call +82 (02) 566-0835.


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