Gallery2 [G2] The famous ‘Atomaus’ does not appear in this show.
Dongi Lee [DL] This time I tried something new that had been in my mind for long. I always thought that I have complicated thoughts. The complexity of thinking had to be shown.
G2 Indeed various elements are mixed in these works.
DL My works are kind of eclecticism. The paradigm that artworks must show the ‘essence’ is already worn out. There had been thought that artworks have only to show the ‘concept’ and all the others are irrelevant. Far from that reductionism, my works start somewhere else.
G2 Some paintings are divided into different sections on the same surface.
DL I guess that the idea of segmentation was inspired by David Salle. When still an art school student, I loved the American ‘postmodern’ artists of the 80s: Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, Julian Schnabel, Eric Fischl, etc, etc. David Salle was one of them and I was really impressed at his split-screen effect. He had a different attitude from the previous artists who kept making an artwork as unity. I felt that the idea is novel.
G2 Let’s see the new works specifically. That piece with an image of golf ball…
DL Golf Ball, literally. For me, Golf Ball by Roy Lichtenstein is one of the most unforgettable works. It looks simple but embodies the artist’s subtle stance toward American culture, pop art, abstract art, cartoon, and so forth. I copied the golf ball image from a newspaper commercial and borrowed the multi-layered semantic structure from the work of Lichtenstein, which strengthens the content of my work, I think.
G2 Where did these abstract elements come from?
DL From abstract art in those old days, psychedelic posters in the 60s, op art, and oriental calligraphy.
G2 Are you interested in the American culture of the 60s?
DL The USA in the 60s was such a fertile source from which lots of creative and brand-new things are poured out. Rock music, pop art, minimalism, new American cinema, and feminism are all resulted from that. I have always been interested in the American culture of the 60s. My first record that I bought when in middle school was 'The Mamas & The Papas’.
G2 In Revolution, there is a vertical yellow line separating the surface. Is it also an abstract element?
DL The yellow line is the most abstract part of the work. It is something like Barnett Newman’s ‘zip,’ which is the most powerful symbol of transcendence and sublime that abstract artists like Newman and Rothko pursued.
G2 Who is the man holding a flag?
DL Kim Il-sung or Kim Jung-il, probably. It is copied from a propaganda poster of North Korea. They might be the only country in the world where socialist realism is still produced. North Korea is under the ideology of materialism; they are directly opposite to Barnett Newman. The two different elements are so mixed in my work that it might look quite confusing to the North Korean.
G2 What is the dapple in the corner of Golf Ball, looking like a flower or a cookie?
DL It is copied from my scribble with pen in a notebook. In a way like automatism, which surrealist artists thought to be a meaningful act, I wanted to introduce ‘chance’ and ‘unconsciousness’ into my work. How could you combine heterogeneous and contradictory elements? It might be a big question of art in the future. I think that the recent vogue of ‘convergence’ and ‘Ubiquitous’ is also relevant to this trend.