It's no secret that we love tiny spaces, and how they make us live a little more creatively. Artists too can flourish from a seeming disadvantage of working in a tiny space, like Korean artist JeeYoung Lee, who eschews the path of digital photo-editing in the creation of her stunning dreamscapes, all meticulously set up in her tiny Seoul studio measuring 11.8 by 13.5 feet.
From Photoshopped worlds to kinetic experiments, digital technology has increasingly been making inroads into the world of fine art. Yet some remain steadfastly old school, like Lee. Without the use of digital photo manipulation, Lee's staging process can often take weeks to even months of labour, with Lee painstakingly creating each prop, suspending or arranging each element just so.
Each of Lee's magical scenes are inspired by ancient Korean stories, as well as the artist's personal memories. Time and time again, Lee uses herself as a model, turning these imaginative, oftentimes nature-inspired, images into fantastical self-portraits of great introspective power.
My Modern Met provides a backstory via the artist of one of her pieces, Resurrection (pictured above):
Inspired by the Story of Shim Cheong, a Korea folktale as well as by Shakespeare’s Ophelia, Lee JeeYoung made this installation by painting paper lotus and flooding the room with fog and carbonic ice in order to create a mystic atmosphere.
Lotus flowers grow from the impure mud to reach for the light and bloom to the rise and fall of the sun; in Asia, it bears various cultural symbolisms such as prospects and rebirth. It is also known for its purifying function. The presence of the artist in the heart of such flower is meant to convey her personal experience. “I was born again by overcoming negative elements that had dragged me down and cleansed myself emotionally. The figure within a lotus blooming implies a stronger self who was just born again and is facing a new world”. It is this is very moment when one reaches maturity and full-potential that Lee illustrates in “Resurrection”, and, more generally speaking, throughout the entirety of her corpus.