LEE Yong Deok: INDIVISIBILITY
Arario Gallery Cheonan presents sculptor Lee Yong Deok (b.1959)’s solo exhibition INDIVISIBILITY from August 23rd 2018 to January 6th 2019. Lee sought new directionalities for figurative art in its task to face reality by joining a group of young artists in the exhibition <Present-Image> in the mid-1980s, when monochrome paintings called ‘Dansaekhwa’ were dominating mainstream art. He garnered international fame and became known as the father of ‘inverted sculptures,’ wherein he visualized the coexistence of mutually exclusive elements and his perception of boundaries across yin and yang, inside and outside. Over the years, he established a unique oeuvre comprising a variety of approaches across inverted sculptures, installations, and participatory media art, showcasing his aesthetics.
The exhibition presents, in addition to his famed inverted sculptures, an array of different approaches and styles including his existing Vollplastik works, spatial installations, videos, and also mobile sculptures. Through these pieces, Lee tries to shed the burden of always being tied back to his reputation as the father of inverted sculptures, and present a more expanded perspective toward all the beings that exist in the world. Whereas his earlier works described the coexistence of binaries such as yin and yang or inside and outside through the form of inverted sculptures, the pieces in this exhibition explore the indivisibility of existence despite the persistence of such conceptual boundaries. The lexical definition of the exhibition title Indivisibility is ‘impossible to divide’; Lee supports this concept by invoking the ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides (B.C.515~445)’s idea that ‘existence is indivisible.’ Visitors can see and feel Lee’s thoughts though the works at the exhibition hall, comprising mobile sculptures powered by motors and electromagnets, installations, videos, and more.
Lee visualizes his ideas by enlisting and defamiliarizing familiar objects or ordinary people. Viewers may think that the shakes and nods of Self-Dialogue, the headpieces set out in the exhibition hall indicate an endless thread of conversation, rotating between affirmation and denial, but Lee notes that these interpretations stem from customs and artificially projected meanings, unrelated to the true mode of being. Also, Lee embodies his reflections on our lives as existence and presence. The humanoid figure precariously spinning on a top-shaped object in Sway and the half-sunk sponge boat of Buoyancy remind us the fateful stipulations of the human condition as existence, the tenets of which we often forget in the daily routines of life. Over twenty pieces of inverted sculptures also await visitors, filling the walls with their portrayal of familiar scenes from our lives. Drawing in the visitors, they embody the coexistence of interfaced binaries – yin and yang, convex and concave, or inside and out. Upon approaching the familiar site and people in the sculptures, the visitors will rejoice in the unique experience of discovering the concave nature of the seemingly convex mass.
Born in Seoul in 1956, LEE, Yong Deok earned his B.A. and graduate degree at Seoul National University as a sculpture major, and completed the Meisterschüler program at Germany’s Berlin University of the Arts. Starting with his solo exhibition at K.C.A.F. Fine Arts Gallery in 1988, he held nineteen solo exhibitions at a number of major domestic and overseas art museums including Schulmuseum Berlin in Germany, and the National Museum of China, and participated in more than 100 group exhibitions around the world. He was awarded the Korean Fine Arts Association Award in 1987, Kim Sechoong Sculpture Award in 2011, and Moonshin Art Award First Prize in 2016. As a professor of art/sculpting at Seoul National University’s art college, he held the position of college dean, continuing his effort as an educator and advocate of newly rising artists.