LEE Jihyun: Red Scene: Arario Gallery Temporary Exhibition Space
The most striking aspect of LEE Jihyun(b.1979)’s artworks lie in the multitude of layers that offer visual intrigue which stems from the interplay between juxtaposition and collision. As an added charm, each strata stands closely tied to the labyrinthine paths of LEE’s own memory. The memory deeply rooted in her innermost world, LEE notes, can be discovered at her mother’s kitchen where the family spent countless hours together during her childhood. The foundational component of LEE’s practice, the motif of mixed memories has evolved into a unique concept donned the ‘Red Scene’ in its instantiation through the specific mechanism of her mother’s kitchen enveloped in a remarkable shade of red. Having served as an anchoring force that bookended LEE’s life as an immigrant for the past decade, the memories of her mother’s kitchen marks the point of departure for Red Scene.
For LEE, the ‘Red Scene’ is at once a symbolic presentment of and mechanism for summoning remembered or forgotten memories back to the realm of reality through either willful or unconscious measures. In the exhibition, LEE presents paintings and doll objects that both directly and indirectly visualize this concept, along with a small-size painting series entitled ‘Fantasma’. The red spaces that intermittently appear throughout the exhibition serve as a boundary between the viewers and the spaces within the paintings; blending reality and fiction, the virtual and the actual, and past and present. Smaller paintings—which illustrate the fleeting thread of reveries that emerge in the process of creating larger works—are intentionally interspersed among the pieces that showcase the 'Red Scene'. This curatorial setting demonstrates LEE’s distinct artistic method and reflective thought process that incessantly seizes and connects the links between memories and musings at random.
Should each of the paintings be seen as an invitation to the memory spaces that are mediated through the ‘Red Scene’; then the doll objects, which LEE debuts in this exhibition may be understood as the physical embodiment of mnemonic routinization. Since becoming a mother herself, LEE began to make dolls as her mother once had, in an effort to gather and extend her collection of materialized memories, piece by piece. Sewing up cotton fillings and overlaying them with watercolor, LEE repeats the process of doll-making in her three-dimensional production. The doll objects—along with drawings on ceramics, watercolor on stretched cotton on embroidered hoops, and sundry items from her personal collection—are exhibited in display cases that encapsulate the accumulation of LEE’s memories. This assemblage of ordinary objects light the fuse to rekindle not only LEE’s private remembrances but also the viewers’ personal, or even collective memories.
LEE Jihyun received her BFA and MFA from Sungshin Women's University (Seoul, Korea) and MFA from School of Visual Arts (New York, USA). Since her first group exhibition in 2000, the artist has participated in a number of international exhibitions across various countries such as Japan, Switzerland, and the USA. She has held a total of nine solo exhibitions at Arario Gallery, Doosan Gallery, Gallery Hyundai and Gallery Sun Contemporary. LEE’s works are featured in institutional collections including MMCA, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and ARARIO MUSEUM. She currently lives and works in the USA.