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Transreal: My Home Town at Asia House

A notice of the current show at Asia House, featuring two Korean painters.

Exhibition Period: 29th September – 17th October 2009

Venue: Asia House, 63 New Cavendish, Street, London W1G 7LP [Map]

Reception: 5th October, 6:30PM

TransReal: My Home Town is a reaction, and an exploration of this reaction, towards the seemingly increasing acceptance of the transient and subjective nature of reality and truth. It is also an opportunity to present the works of Sea Hyun Lee and Jin Kyung Lee, two leading practitioners of painting medium in Korea who have begun to use this medium in a way that seems to be free from the forms and formality of Western art aesthetics.

Jin Kyung LEE: In the Middle of Mountain after Mountain, Acrylic on panel, 200x 200 cm, 2009
Jin Kyung LEE: In the Middle of Mountain after Mountain, Acrylic on panel, 200x 200 cm, 2009

The exhibition begins with two contrasting Landscape paintings from these two artists. The mountains and hills they portray seem to stand at the edge of existence. In his recent interview, See Hyun Lee commented that it was the hills of Korea that have formed his genes. Jin-Kyung Lee’s sentiments are the same. Mountains and hills were places where she worked and lived for the last ten years of her life. Thus, mountains form part of their identities, the basis of their life, and became foundation of their works.

Seemingly simplistic and naïve, Jin Kyung’s red mountains are highly abstract, bold and rather rough portrayal of multi-layered mountains, and serve as a vessel which contains the simple pleasure and the beauty of seemingly banal everyday life. To her, it is the common people that to have courageous joy and value that are in everyday life. It is this sensibility which colours her landscape works, and which also led her to develop work on genre paintings.

In contrast to this, the hyper-realistic portrayal of Sea-Hyun Lee’s red landscape reflects the traces of memories, both painful and nostalgic, that have disappeared under swath of rapid development. His use of red and white symbolises the contradictory dualities: the pain and healing, Dystopia and Utopia, and the Yin and Yang of Eastern Philosophy. Recently Sea-Hyun Lee began to include more detailed narratives in the portrayed nature which were occurring around him – chaotic perspective, night scene, fading side streets all form part of this – blurring the boundary between landscape and genre paintings.

SeaHyun Lee: Between Red-32, Oil on linen, 200 x 200cm, 2007
SeaHyun Lee: Between Red-32, Oil on linen, 200 x 200cm, 2007

From the standpoint Korean Art History, these two artists can be seen to be continuing the movement that had its beginning in the early 1980s, when Minjoong Art, with their emphasis on the native culture and religion, formed a socially critical counter culture to the dominant academic movements, and which is now accepted as the first uniquely Korean art movement of the 20th century. However, the paradox of the creative processes of both Jin Kyung Lee and Sea Hyun Lee is that in their attempt to find something that is truly themselves and their own and free from the Western influence, that have found the form, visual language and aesthetics that is truly Universal and empathic.

Jin Kyung Lee (b. 1967)’s works have been shown extensively in Asia. Her typography and images have been used widely in fashion design, and art shop interiors. Her publications include postcard books, and illustrations for the book ‘Letter of Tears’ 1999, and she has been introduced to the general public through many TV documentaries. She has also worked as Art Director for Ssamzi where she designed the website and wall murals

Sea Hyun Lee (b. 1967) has exhibited internationally including Switzerland, Italy and the UK, and has participated in After Gogo:New Era of Korean Art, 2009 Ljubljana Graphic Biennale, Slovenia. Lee’s works are included in many collections varying from Uli Sigg Collection (Zurich, Switzerland), Collection of James Li (Beijing, China), Collection of Lorraine Barrick (Seattle, USA) and Hana Bank Collection (Seoul, Korea)

(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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