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Artist Sea Hyun Lee Paints the Town Red

2012/09/08 | Permalink | Source

Renowned artist Sea Hyun Lee and his work have created buzz for their portrayal of Korean society and landscapes. He was even once praised by famous Swiss art collector, Uli Sigg, as the artist that can best portray his country.

Well-known for his landscape painting series "Between Red", Lee has extended his color palette for a new series called "Rainbow" for an upcoming exhibition in Seoul.

The "Between Red" series are artworks made for the most part in the color red. Though the title of this post says he paints the town red, it's not in the way that you may be thinking. The red is a nod to Lee's experiences in the military surveying the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at night through infrared goggles.

As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, red is also a symbolic color for Korea, seen in both of the Korea's flags and many cultural or national events.

According to Union Gallery, the fragmentation in these art pieces are at the core of Lee's paintings. The fragmentation gives multiple dualities to the seemingly simple landscapes as well as an "uncanny tension" that animates the paintings. Though they may seem to carry political meanings, they are primarily deeply personal works that refer to Lee's own sense of the past and its losses. Rather, the main concepts behind the paintings are nostalgia and utopia.

Lee's new Rainbow series still incorporates the use of red as the dominant color, but now includes vivid yellows, blue and greens (inspired by the colors Lee saw at shaman temples in his youth) to better portray the social and political circumstances in modern Korean history and its landscape.

Having living in London since he was 37, these artworks reflect Lee's reactions to coming back to visit Korea and seeing the rapid development changes. According to the Korea Herald, in a painting in the series "Rainbow in Green", Lee expresses the shock he felt when he found out that the place where he had scattered his mother's ashes had disappeared due to a development project.

Lee's solo exhibition, "Plastic Garden", will take place from Aug. 29 to Oct. 14 in Samcheong-dong, Seoul.

About the author by Donna Choi

Born and raised in the States, I came to Seoul in 2009 and have loved living and working in such a high-tech and connected city ever since. I enjoy collecting unique, cute gadgets/items (I have a bread-scented smartphone case!) and traveling around Korea. My personal mission while living in Korea: Try every type of Korean food known to exist


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