Mesmerizing and Grotesque Tire Sculptures by Yong Ho Ji

Modern art has its unique appeal, and there always seems to be an artist that manages to surprise us through unusual techniques, innovative material ideas or simply through the sheer beauty of his/her works. There is literally no limit to imagination. It is possible to create incredible art from used up toiler rolls, newspapers and even matches. A while back we shared the work of Shi Jindian, who has taken sculpturing to a whole new level with his steel-wire models, and the fascinating 3D paper sculptures of Jeff Nishinaka. Today we would like to showcase Korean sculptor’s Yong Ho Ji’s monstrous creations made from recycled tires.

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Yong Ho Ji was born in the year 1978. he completed his MFA fine arts degree at the New York University of Art, and has been making layered tire sculptures of mythological creatures ever since. His art is definitely unlike anything you will ever see, and his collection is already home to hundreds of majestic works. Most of his work is centered around the reinterpretation and representation of magical creatures which are blended perfectly with a near human physical structures. Being around cattle and other livestock during his childhood has strengthened the artist’s desire to make art about humanity’s responsibility towards nature, with the help of recycled materials.

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Yong Ho Ji has managed to put together a stunning series of intense, monstrous sculptures by layering this unusual material into elaborate constructions. To embody the creatures he meticulously cuts stripes of tires which represent flesh, muscles and curves of the body. The sculptures have a heavy, industrial aesthetic with intricate details.

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When you view them from afar, the sculptures seem surprisingly realistic, but upon closer inspection you will see that what looked like a horse, is actually a mythical creature with the tail of a chicken and legs of a dog. The tires may not be the center-piece of his works, but it is through their uneven texture that the grotesque appearance is accentuated.

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How Yong Ho Ji Works

Yong has adopted the tire as his signature material based on his childhood memory of the spare wheel on his family’s jeep. The choice of material is very unusual, and as you can probably imagine, difficult to manipulate. The artist has to mold it over a welded iron or wood frame, compacted with soil to recreate the delicate intricacies of the animal’s muscles. He uses different types of bicycle, tractor, and motorcycle tiers for specific muscles, and to create the effect of skin or fur. Critiques believe that the exaggerated postures and realistic appearance (generated by the mimicking of how real muscles hang on skeletons) point to the influence of 19th century French sculptor Auguste de Rodin.

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Another one of Yong’s sources of inspiration is without a doubt the Darwinian theory on the Origin of species (which emphasizes the need for animals to adapt in order to survive). Combine these influences with the artist’s attitude towards the consumerist nature of our society, where tires are constantly being used, devaluated and tossed away, and the artwork gains a new meaning. Yong Ho Ji has actually described his sculptures as being precarious identities that evoke both the natural process of transformation and the mythical status of hybrid creatures.

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The Mutant Mythos collection includes hybrid forms of animals, people and combinations of the two. Sizes vary from an eleven-inch high dog, to a five-feet-tall goat with horns or 10-foot-long hammerhead shark. The animals are categorized into carnivorous, omnivorous, arthropods, and herbivorous.

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my concept is mutation—mutants. the product is from nature, from the white sap of latex trees but here
it’s changed. the color is black. the look is scary. rubber is very flexible, like skin, like muscles’ (Yong Ho Ji)

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Through his work, Yong Ho Ji clearly expresses his skepticism towards those who try to defy nature by creating entirely new forms of species by modifying the structure of genes. Therefore, he sticks to his science-fiction monsters, alien-like creatures and genetically modified organisms that can be found in legends, stories and films. At the moment he is one of the most successful modern artists.

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