INVITED: "Handheld Shooting" - LEE YONGBAEK


Angel Soldier, is a video performance in which at a glance, the viewer sees a beautiful scene with flowers and hears the calming sounds of nature.  However, it is actually a superficial scene in which soldiers wearing military uniforms in flower prints slowly move in an artificial flower jungle.  This work depends only on the drastically contradicting subjects, angel and soldier, to create direct and frank expressions.  The camouflage, trickery, and the desperate movement present the political situations of Korea.

Lee’s another video work Broken Mirror, composed of a mirror, a flat screen, and a computer, this piece explores the collapse of boundary between the so-called real space and virtual space.  This simple, yet captivating work displays a mirror seeming to suddenly break with earsplitting sound.  Then it is restored again, as if in an endless loop.  In front of it, the viewer questions whether the breaking of the mirror is real or an illusion.  The work effectively places the viewer in the ambiguous border between real space and imaginary space, or consciousness and dream.  Through this, Lee builds an overwhelming pressure of self-disruption.

The search for essence and existence continues in Lee’s recent series of paintings, Plastic Fish.  In this brilliant, colorful painting, images of bait, is painted close-up and in hyperrealist style, amplifying its essence as a simulacrum.  The plastic fish seems to simply fill up the canvas in parallel rows.  However, through excessive visual stimulation of the flashing plastic covering of the baits and their hyperreal depiction, the viewer is lured into a state of immersion by the so-called “fatal seduction” of the simulacrum.  This phenomenon illustrates the typical hyperreality where the dividing line between external object and internal subject collapses.  More importantly, this is a scene of a paradox.  This work tells a story of how an artificial fish captures the real fish for survival, only to be killed by it.

The recent series Pieta, pity, consists of Pieta: Self-death and Pieta: Self-hatred.  Pieta series takes the relationship between Jesus and Mary from the classical work Pieta, and parodies it by using the two elements of sculptural casting: the mold and the molded figure itself.  In Pieta: Self-death the mold is Virgin Mary holding the dead, molded figure, Jesus. The relationship between the producer and the produced insinuates a process of self-reproduction, in which elements of biological gender are eliminated.  Pieta: Self-hatred, shows the molded figure attacking and destroying the original mold it is made from. This series metaphorically unfolds contradictions of human existence, religious hypocrisy, the dark savageness of human society and civilization, etc. It conveys an uncanny chillness, unavoidable like a sudden downpour on a mid-summer night.

The work In-between Jesus and Buddha, explores a neutral space, in between two iconic figures: suffering Christ and smiling Buddha.  The artist first uses photographic images Jesus and Buddha, then by morphing the images, eliminate the original images.  With the original images gone, the images left are no longer Jesus nor Buddha but a strange mutant created by digital simulation.  This relates to the manipulating conditions of digital media, increasingly available to all.

*Additional exhibition review is written by artcritic Ludwig Seyfarth

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