Ottokaji Iroke was born on the west side of Seoul and grew up in the northern part of Seoul. He was a quiet boy who likes to think alone and because he grew up in a double-income family as a second child, he spent a lot of time in one of the painter’s ateliers alone. Naturally, he got interested in arts, and despite his parents wanting him to go to architecture school, he went to art school. At first, he was in the industrial design department at Hongik University, but after mandatory military service for 2 years, he decided to start a fine-arts course. He double-majored painting and Visual communication design for his bachelor’s. He was the type of person enjoying all kinds of sports such as basketball, football, taekwondo, speed-skating and loving hip-hop.


He moved to Groningen for his master’s course at Frank Mohr Institute in 2018. Currently, he is based in Den Haag, training Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and still enjoys watching sports. He intertwines his interests in sports with his art practice. While studying in the Netherlands, a completely new lifestyle opened up in front of him: A new dilemma raised “How can I survive here as a short man? Admiration for the height of dutch guys and athleticism hurts him inside and he decided to overcome it through his arts.


By living in the Netherlands for 4 years, he realised that football is not separable from European culture, especially for men. Violence from Hooligans and enthusiasm for wins were so powerful. Korea, they do not have a hooligan culture, but still, he can see the mechanism of sports, and how much it is hooking people’s attention. In the sports stadium, conventional heroism is still alive and people are facinated by this traditional value. Literally, the most popular museum in the whole of Europe is Camp Nou because of FC Barcelona.


The topic ‘Sports’ is one of the essentials which hook crowds easily along with Sex and Screen. Some people say that authoritarians trick people with those industries to distract their attention from politics. However, he questions back to those, if it is something that so many people enjoy, then it is very human. Isn’t it? Public culture does not mean that it is lower than institutional culture. He exposes human nature with his art. He spits out the reformed version of pieces like a rapper through the form of art. He talks about humans through his art. For his aesthetic, he had not only influenced by visual artists such as Sam Gilliam, Steven Parrino, Bram Bogart and Richard Tuttle, but also by sports stars such as Heung-min Son, Ono Shohei, and Won-hee Lee along with hip-hop musicians such as Ximya Kim and E-sens with their culture; in their attitude, confidence, sampling and appropriation. As he grew up in Seoul which is a very urban and competitive society, hip-hop and arts made his life breathable in a suffocating society. It is expressionistic. He is trying to break through the traditional ideas of the exhibitions. He breaks the rock when the appreciation of his art goes in one direction. He leaves possibilities within his installation. He creates a scene in which you might imagine and feel something. It is like an incident where a familiar thing or event confronts viewers in an unsettling, eerie, or uncomfortable context in a mysterious manner.

There is a lot of information in this world through Instagram, news, internet memes, games and music. Every individual goes through this environment, an infinite world and definite thoughts are crossing each other constantly. He tries not to stick in the static point, so he can travel in uncertainty while he is immersed in making a painting, sculpture, video, in the end, he presents all the moments that he collected from all that matters into nothing but perceptions. He keeps trying to guide you towards another dimension to leap off. So to him, going to a toilet, looking around, having a brunch and going to an white cube, and going out to the public, all become a part of experience. He believes that Art should not be a remote island, it is a part of life not only for suggestors but also for receivers.


He wants to innovate the conventional notion of creativity. In the state where the metaphor to be transmitted is already decided, the other unnecessary noise is normally cancelled in the process of creation, but he left the unrefined noise which naturally generated in the process of creation as it is, rather than shut it down completely like a propaganda-types of work to deliver only the certain message. He denies the elitist way of thinking in viewing art. If you look at the installation as audio work, rather than just using the voice, the reflection and absorption from the objects in the space are visually preserved to some extent. By delivering the natural creative process as it is, he provides an active position for their own perceptual journey to the audience. His setting often causes a pause for the viewers to throw question ‘why’ before trying to make a judgment, leading to a reserve in judging process for a wider acceptability of the audience.


Conventional ways of raw, gestural, and expressionistic aesthetics are reinterpreted in a sporty and urban manners. He attempts to create an ecosystem where more people can enjoy art by renovating the outdated style of conventional art, such as sharing how to make art in the DIY method on social media along with presenting it to the white cube. Urbanity, low entropy, effectivity and suggestional new aesthetics from his daily interests are the main elements of his arts.


He makes paintings, sculptures, audio, video, and installations for a holistic experience. He develops himself every second. His vision is towards the future.


BFA  Painting                                                            

BFA  Visual communication design               
MFA  Painting                                                            


CV upon request

Kvk: 80377955



Hongik University, Seoul, KOR                    2017

Frank Mohr Institute, Groningen, NL       2020

Hongik University, Seoul, KOR                    2017

© 2021 By Ottokaji