The Artist Whose Work a Young Couple Accidentally Defaced in a Mall Isn’t Upset at the Pair. He’d Even Like to Join Them for Tea

Artist JonOne might even thank them for their intervention.

US graffiti artist JonOne (John Andrew Perello). Photo by Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP via Getty Images.
US graffiti artist JonOne (John Andrew Perello). Photo by Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP via Getty Images.

The internet was captivated by the story of the bumbling couple in Seoul who accidentally defaced a canvas said to be worth $500,000 out of a mistaken belief that it was a participatory art installation. Now, we know what the artist whose work they defaced thinks about the headline-making incident.

“With just three brush strokes on my canvas, they have managed to cause a planetary buzz?!? There is strength in that,” JonOne told Vice.

The 57-year-old American street artist, who was born John Andrew Perello, has carved out a niche for himself by painting Abstract Expressionist-style graffiti.

But now JonOne, who lives in France, has a newfound fame because of his uninvited collaborators and the widespread attention their gaffe caused.

JonOne painting Untitled live at "The Great Graffiti," at the Seoul Arts Center in 2016. Photo by David Maginot, courtesy of BYNDER.

JonOne painting Untitled live at “The Great Graffiti,” at the Seoul Arts Center in 2016. Photo by David Maginot, courtesy of BYNDER.

Some have speculated that all the attention could increase the value of the piece, originally painted at a graffiti art show at the Seoul Arts Center in 2016.

The work includes an array of painting supplies that JonOne had used in its creation scattered at the foot of the canvas.

JonOne's vandalized painting is now helping advertise the "Street Noise" exhibition at P/O/S/T gallery at Seoul's Lotte World Mall. Courtesy of P/O/S/T.

JonOne’s vandalized painting is now helping advertise the “Street Noise” exhibition at P/O/S/T gallery at Seoul’s Lotte World Mall. Courtesy of P/O/S/T.

It was those paints and brushes that inspired the couple to make their own mark on the canvas, an unwitting act of vandalism that was captured by security cameras at the exhibition “Street Noise,” on view through February at P/O/S/T, a gallery at Seoul’s Lotte Street Mall.

When JonOne first learned of the damage, his reaction was “what is this shit?” But then, “it made me think about how in today’s world we’re all so closely linked,” he told Vice, admitting that he might even thank the couple: “I hope someday to have the opportunity to drink tea with them in Korea.”


The artist is still deciding whether or not to restore the painting to its original condition—and it’s unclear who would be responsible for covering restoration costs. In the meantime, P/O/S/T is using the work’s sudden infamy to help promote the show, which remains on view through mid June.

“Street Noise” is on view at P/O/S/T, Lotte World Mall, B1, 300 Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul, February 26–June 13, 2021. 


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