It’s been six years since the phenomenal K-pop group BTS last performed in the Philippines. Since 2017, Filipino ARMYs have been waiting eagerly for them to come back.
The closest they’d get to being with their six beloved idols Rap Monster, Jimin, J-Hope, Jin, Suga, V, and Jungkook is not just on their screens—it’s through an exhibit.
[HYBE INSIGHT] BTS X JAMES JEAN: SEVEN PHASES EXHIBITION is now in Manila at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.
The Philippines is the third stop of the touring exhibit, the first was in South Korea and then in Germany, and will run until December 3, 2023.
The “Seven Phases” exhibit features the artistic collaboration between BTS and Taiwanese-American and Grammy-nominated visual artist James Jean and gives exclusive access to memorabilia such as costumes, trophies, and more, which ARMYs can have the opportunity to see the boys from a closer and different angle.
“I hope the fans of BTS get lost in my universe of paintings. I want my work to inspire, to create, and to see new possibilities, to guide them, and to go inward and confront all the ghosts and demons inside us,” Jean said in the video featured in the exhibit.
Inspired by the song lyrics “bloomed in the garden of loneliness, a flower that resembles you” of their song “Truth Untold” filled with sadness, Jean translated it into wondrous and eye-popping 31 art pieces.
Creating a universe based on the song, the artworks depict the garden of blossoms and the seven members based on their characteristics.
“I researched every member of BTS and discovered they each had unique personalities and characteristics. I tried to bring it out into paintings and create stories based on their nicknames and unique traits,” Jean said in the video.
The first part of the exhibit shows Jean’s pencil scribbles and rough sketches of each painting, while the second part highlights the totems or mixed media on shaped wood panels. The seven totems, much like the seven phases of the moon, represent each member as a moon with details that exude their personalities.
Towards the next part, a huge artwork composed of two canvases reveals the “Garden,” which depicts the members giving new life through emerging as spirits of flowers, gathering together in a garden of blossoms surrounded by chrysanthemums, peonies, and lotuses, bringing continuity to the next generation.
In the exhibit’s third part, the seven artworks show each member in their nature. As mixed media pieces, Jean said he projects the drawings on the canvas where he applies the “paint by numbers” method. With the clean lines showing elegance in his works, he then introduces “some chaos” into the equation like textures, layers, color splashes, and spills to bring more energy to it.
“Moonchild” is inspired by Rap Monster’s night owl tendency to work on music during nighttime; “Narcissus” is about Jin as “Worldwide Handsome” surrounded by flowers and bees; “Meowtide” is based on Suga’s nickname “Lil Meow Meow” and shows him at the beach with a cat; and as the “sunshine of the group,” “Solaria” depicts J-Hope representing the sun.
Furthermore, “Champignon” portrays Jimin floating in the air with mushrooms signifying his extended time of staying in the air during choreography; “Violane” pictures V as a gemstone emerging from shattered violane, symbolizing this unique and vibrant personality; and “Cottontail” is Jungkook, known for his nickname “Bunny,” dancing with rabbits, symbolizing his energetic choreography skills.
Nice Entertainment Representative Krisan Jacomina told SoundStrip that BTS members own the artworks on display.
“Each of the paintings is owned by BTS already, they loaned it to HYBE, then they loaned it to us so we can put it on display,” she said.
The fourth part of the exhibit is where the BTS Assets are unveiled. Here, the fans can inspect carefully and imagine as if their idols are right in front of them, as the costumes they wore in the “Permission to Dance” and “Butter” music videos, the iconic Christian Dior custom-made costumes for each of them are displayed.
Regarding the costumes, Jacomina said, “Since it’s been used, it hasn’t been washed. You can feel their presence, feel their spirits.”
Other costume gear like their microphones, in-ear monitors, headsets, and luggage they used on tour are also on display. If ARMYs look closer, they can notice how it is all worn down and scratched.
The next part, where taking pictures is not allowed, is the awards room where more than 40 awards BTS won from Billboard, American Music Awards, MTV, and the Guinness World Records are exhibited.
“We brought in all of their awards from HYBE. Technically, HYBE is empty since [the awards] are all here,” Jacomina said.
ARMYs can also see the butter album BTS decorated during V Live and the shoes that Jimin and J-Hope painted in an In the Soop episode, as well as their albums and magazines.
The last part is the fan zone where ARMYs can write their messages for BTS on a blank black wall, which Jacomina said HYBE will take photos of and show to BTS once the exhibit is done. Exclusive access to merchandise such as shirts and photocards that were previously available on Weverse are also up for grabs.
Jacomina said since the Philippines is the exhibit’s third stop in the world, “It’s a big deal! That’s why more ARMYs have to come. We want them to come and to see this because, after this, we don’t know when’s the next time again.”
“We want ARMYs to feel that this is their [also] their success and [not just of] BTS. BTS wouldn’t be here if it’s not for them,” she added.