BTS RM as art influencer: Kim Namjoon on the painting that left him ‘quite shaken’
‘I find my role as art influencer burdensome’: BTS RM aka Namjoon on why he shares art exhibits with the public and the painting that left him ‘quite shaken’
South Korean boy band, Bangtan Sonyeondan's leader and global icon Kim Namjoon's love for fine art is an integral part of his artistic identity and the BTS Army can vouch for the Rap Monster or RM's admiration for visual aesthetics, his incorporation of art references in his lyrics and his engagement with art initiatives that showcase his passion for the beauty and creativity found in this art form. Namjoon keeps visiting several art museums around the world and has shared his experiences and photos from these visits on social media, expressing his fascination with the artworks he encounters while his museum visits highlight his curiosity and desire to immerse himself in the world of fine art.
If you are a stan, you would know that Namjoon often incorporates references to fine art in his song lyrics where he uses metaphors and allusions to paintings, sculptures and other art forms to convey emotions and concepts and these references demonstrate his deep appreciation for the visual aspects of fine art and his ability to integrate them into his musical storytelling. The rapper has collaborated with various artists from different artistic disciplines. For example, he worked with Danish artist Jakob Steen for the artwork of his mixtape "RM." Their collaboration resulted in visually stunning album covers that blended Namjoon's music with Steen's artistic vision.
The K-Pop idol has shown support for art initiatives and events and participated in the "Connect, BTS" project, which aimed to bridge art and music by commissioning artworks and hosting exhibitions across different cities globally where his involvement demonstrates his belief in the importance of art in connecting people and fostering cultural exchange. Namjoon also keeps sharing glimpses of his personal art collection, has mentioned his love for collecting art pieces and how they inspire and uplift him and his collection showcases his discerning taste and his desire to surround himself with meaningful artistic creations.
In a recent interview with Vogue Korea, RM was asked about his powerful first encounter with art and while gushing about the paintings by Monet, van Gogh and Seurat that he saw at the Art Institute of Chicago, Namjoon shared, “I think it was toward the end of 2018. I was on tour at the time but I decided to use some free time to visit a museum that day. When I saw those famous paintings that I’d only seen in art textbooks or on the Internet and actually felt their matières and presence, I knew I’d made the right choice. I have no artistic talent, so I couldn’t help but marvel, with my jaw on the floor, at the incredible colours and techniques of those master artists. For some reason, I was quite shaken by A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.”
For the uninitiated, "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" is a renowned painting created by French artist Georges Seurat and completed in 1884, it is one of Seurat's most iconic and influential works, showcasing his unique painting technique called Pointillism or Divisionism. The painting depicts a leisurely scene on the banks of the Seine River in Paris, specifically on the island of La Grande Jatte, it captures a sunny Sunday afternoon, with people, animals and nature coming together in a harmonious tableau.
Seurat meticulously applied small dots or points of pure colour to the canvas, which, when viewed from a distance, blend together to create an overall image and this technique allows for a vibrant and luminous effect, enhancing the play of light and color in the painting. In "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte," Seurat presents a cross-section of society, portraying various social classes, ages and activities, people are seen strolling, sitting and even fishing, engaging in moments of relaxation and enjoyment and the composition is carefully balanced, with figures strategically placed throughout the scene, creating a sense of order and symmetry.
The painting exemplifies Seurat's interest in the science of colour and optics as he carefully studied how colours interacted with each other, using contrasting and complementary hues to achieve a sense of depth and atmosphere and this meticulous approach to colour and composition elevates the painting to a level of precision and detail that is both mesmerizing and innovative. "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" is considered a masterpiece of Post-Impressionism and a seminal work in the development of modern art as it embodies Seurat's dedication to meticulous technique, his exploration of colour theory and his ability to capture the essence of a moment in time.
Today, the painting is housed in the Art Institute of Chicago, where it continues to captivate audiences and inspire admiration for Seurat's technical skill and artistic vision. It remains a significant cultural and artistic landmark, symbolizing the convergence of art, science, and the beauty of everyday life.
Talking about why he likes to share the art he sees at exhibits with the public, RM confessed, “I think of an Instagram account — especially that of a public figure — as a channel of curation. It shows what the account holder is interested in, what they want to reveal and express about themselves. Yes, I do find my role as some kind of art influencer burdensome at times, but I post about these art shows and works in the hope that people who like me and follow me on social media will also get some enjoyment out of it. Especially so because I’d like members of the young generation, including myself, to take more interest in modern and contemporary Korean art as well as ancient art forms.”
Calling media and performance art “harder” than paintings and crafts since it “takes more effort to appreciate”, RM opined, “I think it’s important to view and experience art in the spaces where it’s meant to be shown, such as a museum. But it’s difficult for me to spend an hour or more watching a media show or some performance art at a certain venue. As I grow fonder of art, though, I expect I’ll develop more of an interest in those forms of art. I do find the works of Nam June Paik, Lee Seung-taek, Hito Steyerl and Bruce Nauman quite fascinating. I haven’t seen any performance art live yet. What I see on YouTube feels a bit weak to me. I enjoy going to art exhibits not just for the sake of art but also as a pastime, for a change of surroundings. While viewing paintings and crafts, I love interpreting and analysing the matières and the background stories. To be honest, paintings and crafts are prettier and more accessible, aren’t they? I think it’s hard to deny.”
As the leader and main creative force behind BTS, Namjoon actively contributes to the artistic direction of the group's music videos, performances and visual concepts. His involvement reflects his dedication to incorporating artistic elements and elevating the overall aesthetic quality of their work.