Lee younghee solo exhibition, The Growth and Development, will be held at GALLERY2 from July 23 to August 20. The artist, who went through a transition in her material from Jangji (rice paper) to canvas, will display works that imply creation and extinction through the image of fire. Black smoke rises into the sky. Nameless plants are ending their life in a blaze of fire. We do not know where this blazing fire is heading?it just sways from side to side. This flame, however, will completely disappear after time passes on.
The placid surface of the water indicates the extinction of the fire. The images of flame floating on the surface in Lee’s work remind the viewer of cremation?a traditional funeral ritual. In India, when a person dies, they set the dead body on fire and then release it to the Ganges River. They call death Moksha, meaning freedom and enlightenment. A human being can become perpetually liberated through death, and the extinction of a body after death brings a clarity of the mind.
Fire connotes another creation beyond extinction. The image of fire expressed in the work is closer to a ritual than an incident. The forms and colors of fire depicted in a plain manner induce divinity and meditation rather than fear. In other images, a pale pink color fills the canvas and are ambiguous as to whether they refer to a fire or a flower or human skin, only sending a message to the viewer that the fire is not just for destruction and extinction.
The point of interest in this exhibition is the change of medium. Lee, who studied eastern painting, would explore methods and materials that originated from the East with Jangji. But since 2014, Lee has shown new work using acrylic on canvas. Jangji is made from the soaked and filtered bark of the dak tree that is layered together three or four times. Colors smear into paper. Once color is smeared, there is no return. Images of fire sporadically appear in the works on canvas made in 2014. Among the works produced in that year, a work titled A Baby and another titled A Grand Mother stand out. Both of the works place a figure in the center of the canvas. A Baby depicts a newly born child wrapped in a blanket with eyes closed. The Grand Mother, on the other hand, portrays the corpse of an elderly woman shrouded in a hemp-cloth for burial with eyes closed as well. A newly born body and a deceased body are not so different from one another. The form of life and of death are bizarrely similar. The living one continually witnesses births as well as the deaths of others. The overlapping images converge into the shape of fire. Instantly applicable media such as acrylic on canvas and her method of increasing the density of color by adding paints directly onto the fiber of canvas make the images of fire more elegant. The way Lee creates an image?without having a pre-determined end while subconsciously expanding an image from brush work?has been solidified through the change of medium. The images of fire are aligned with her another series of work that capture daily routines. Lee Younghee through her daily routines could perceive the cycle of the creation and extinction in a more profound sense. Her previous work presented a fragmented look at daily life, whereas these new works display her simplified yet more profound insight through the images of fire.