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Lee Jeonglok: Iceland – online exhibition at Pontone Gallery

As Iceland was the first country in this part of the world to announce its openness to post-covid tourism it’s possibly appropriate that Pontone’s first exhibition as we gradually emerge from lockdown features Lee Jeonglok’s work in the country. The exhibition is online only, as the gallery is in the process of moving from Sloane Square to Fitzrovia. The viewing room linked below has a nice video which shows how Lee goes about creating his work.

Lee Jeonglok: Iceland

Online exhibition by Pontone Gallery |
30 March – 16 May 2021
Visit the online viewing room here

Lee Jeonglok: ICELAND 03-2 (2019)
Lee Jeonglok: ICELAND 03-2 (2019). C-Type Print, 120 x 160 cm. Edition of 7 plus 2 AP. Courtesy the gallery and artist

Pontone Gallery is delighted to showcase a series of new and exclusive works by the eminent South Korean artist Lee Jeonglok. The Iceland Series highlights Lee’s continued exploration of the intersection of landscape and light, underscoring humankind’s inherent, shared connection with the natural world.

Lee Jeonglok is an established Korean artist who uses photography to create and record his world. He makes mysterious and evocative images of strange and magical events. These happen in carefully chosen, personally significant landscapes, realised by a thorough mastery of photographic technique.

The production of these pieces is a complex and painstaking process. These images are not made digitally, but by an ‘in camera’ technique. This means using long and multiple exposures, manipulating artificial light and deploying various props on site and in real time. The physicality and engagement of this process is important to the artist. He states that this effort allows him to reveal another, parallel world.

Ever-present in Lee Jeonglok’s work, the ‘Nabi’, or the butterfly, is a valued cultural image and symbol. It is an interlocutor to the spiritual world, somewhere that is significant for this artist to locate and reveal in his work. This image, created out of light, multiplies into clusters and bunches, forming clouds that glow and sparkle in the landscape. Existing only for an instant, the length of a photoflash, these ‘Nabi’ express something other, a world conjured out of the artist’s perception and now revealed to us.

This is photography, not as a disinterested recorder of events, but as an expressive and transforming medium, through which, the artist introduces us to his intense and affecting world. His manipulations of camera technique immerse the viewer in a flickering, shifting dream-space of neon landscape and strange possibilities.

Lee Jeonglok references the following text as describing the essential sense of these haunting photographic pieces:

‘There is a hidden world
Where souls live.
When fog of death falls,
The journey is charted.
On the timeless journey
A guiding light dances.
A light that has disappeared from conscious memory
But is seen in the selfless state.’

‘Journey of Souls’ Michael Newton


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