Billy Al Bengston & Ed Ruscha
April 1 - June 22, 2019

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photo © Tim Street Porter
VSF is pleased to announce the opening of its second gallery location in Seoul, South Korea, with an inaugural exhibition of new and historical works by legendary California artists Billy Al Bengston (b.1934, Dodge City, Kansas) and Ed Ruscha (b. 1937, Omaha, Nebraska). This is the debut gallery presentation of Bengston’s work in South Korea, and Ruscha’s first gallery presentation in South Korea since 1999.
Bengston and Ruscha have personally selected for this exhibition works that reflect on their six decades of friendship, wanderlust, and inside jokes. Since the late 1960s, when both were part of the iconic Ferus Gallery’s original “Cool School” roster, the pair took numerous motorcycle trips from Venice Beach, California to the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. Riding along the coast from dawn to twilight, Billy and Ed watched the moon rise over the Sea of Cortez. In this exhibition, Bengston’s B n E in SF, which stands for “Billy and Ed in San Francisquito” (a Tijuana, Mexico campsite where the two slept on the beach) memorializes such a view: a large pearlescent moon reflecting over a still blue-black ocean. Ruscha’s work Bop That Twerp references a term of endearment with which he goads Bengston’s antics during their adventures together.
True to their shared irreverent sense of humor, the artists determined to open this exhibition on America’s April Fool’s Day, April 1st, which fortuitously happens to fall this year on the Monday following Art Basel Hong Kong. This exhibition is Bengston and Ruscha’s first two-person show together in 50 years, since their joint exhibition in 1969 at the Reece Paley Gallery in San Francisco, then aged 34 and 31. At the front desk, VSF will display a copy of the original 1969 catalog alongside the freshly published 2019 catalog celebrating the reunion exhibition five decades later. Photographed by their longtime mutual friend, Tim Street Porter, Bengston and Ruscha sit together in the same Venice studio they worked in sixty years ago, alongside the likes of Ken Price, Ed Moses, and Larry Bell, spilling stories of the trips they shared, the friends that came and went, and the journey through time that brought them together once more in Seoul.
The catalog for the exhibition can be purchased here.