Digital Naturalist Lee Lee-Nam

Born in Damyang, Jeollanam-do, South Korea, Lee Lee-nam had studied sculpture at school. One day he saw an animation and was mesmerized by the 'living scupture'. Around 2001, he began studying digital image processing. He made his artworks, while farming in his spare time. So nature for him is like breathing in the air. In Monet's fountain, he let the fish flop. In One of Kim Hong-do's darwings, Mukjukdo(Bamboo in Korean ink), he made white snow fall endlessly. He says humbly that he wants to provide some rest to his contempories who are living hectic city lives. In his work, however, there is something more than just rest. He borrows images from famous paintings and moves smoothly between different times and spaces.
People say he is the second Nam June Paik
He was the man of the moment when he won high praise from John rajchman, the great scholar of the department of convergence and a Columbia University professor. He attracted attention by creating a motion poster of the movie 'Blades of Blood' by director Lee Jun-Ik. It became a sentational issue that he singned a 5 years exclusive contract with Samsung for supply contents and Samsung released its LED TV(55inch,46inch) including 3 of his works. In 2010, during the G20 meeting in Seoul, he installed one of his works in the Cenference Room and Hotel where the head of each state stayed using a Samsung TV, iPad, and Galaxy Tab. It received a faverable review. He can also be found in 'Travel in Storybook with anthony brown, an author of fairy tale stories. In addition, his works were placed in middle school text books in 2011. He placed 363rd in 'Art Price', which records the prices of 500 masterpieces from artists throughout the world.

Revival of a famous picture in cyberspace
Postmodernism's originality, in addition to its unique creative base, incorporates recent styles, techniques and contemporary methods of expression not the least of which is the use of cyberspace technological advancements. An easily identifiable aspect of postmodernism is the reworking of famous classical artworks, and the borrowing of partial segments of these images which reworks classical art to be more aligned with modern sensibilities.

This is the case with LEE, Lee Nam's latest work where he introduces new meaning, modification and movement to famous classical art. Rather than parody traditional works or assume a critical attitude towards the cultural reality of the day, he assimilates his views in an affirmative manner to create a new or different story. The kernel of his revised vision relies on the power of technology and movement.

LEE vests new and vital power into famous classical art by administering technological insertions, and by substituting realistic movement for potential movement of an image for viewing on a screen. His borrowings span past centuries to recent decades. He doesn't pursue far fetched or exaggerated changes but rather subtly conveys the impression his alterations are more an emphasis or extension of the original artist's intent.

Take, for example, Jan Vermeer van Delt's "Girl With A Pearl Earring" where he has added a single teardrop to the maiden's eye. That single tear drop empowers the original with a lyrical depth of sorrow felt by Vermeer van Delt and his servant in their hopeless love. The viewer directly experiences a subtle hyper-space-time transition that arouses heart felt sympathy for the impossibility of couple's love for each other. LEE's cyberspace embellishments can be further seen with a fly following the butterfly in Shinsaimdang's "Chochungdo", snow in KIM, Hong-do's "Mukjukdo", and a swimmer becoming a fish in Monet's pond all of which serve to heighten the impact of the artists' original images and introduce a new way of viewing the works.

LEE's creative approach through the hyper-space-time continuum can be likened to the medical act of a doctor arousing an unconscious patient from a physical surgical operation. The vitality of his art not only gives comment to the spirit of the original classical images but also revives them with new meaning and imbues them with contemporary commentary.

  • Hee-rang Kim (Curator, Gwangju Museum of Art)

Lee, Lee-Nam
2005 Completed the Department of Visual Communication, Graduate School at Yonsei University
1997 M.F.A. Division of Fine Arts, Graduate School at Chosun University
1995 B.F.A Dept. of Sculpture, College of Fine Arts, Chosun University
Solo Exhibition
2011 Wayne State University, Detroit, USA
        Korean Cultural Office in Sydney, Sydney, Australia
        Hong Kong Art Center, Hong Kong, China
        Dennos Museum Center Northwestern, Michigan Collage, Michigan, USA
        G20 summit in SeoulSpecial Exibition- Gwangju Citi Hall, Gwangju, Korea
2010 Sun Gallery, Seoul,Korea
        Sinsegae Gallery, Korea
2009 Hakgojae, Seoul, Korea
        Sinsegae Gallery, Gwangju, Korea
2008 Beijing Young Artist, Beijing
2008 Park Ryu Sook Gallery, Seoul
2008 Cais Gallery, Hong Kong
2007 Shinsegae Gallery, Gwangju
2006 Gwangju Media Art Lab, Gwangju
2005 Hangaram Gallery, Seoul
2004 Gwangju Media Art Center, Gwangju
2003-1998 Gwangju
Group Exhibition
2011 Kobe Biennale, Kobe, Japan
        Chengdu Biennale, East Chengdu-Music Park, Chengdu, China
        Anthony Brown Retrospective: A Voyage to the World of Illustration with Anthony Brown and Lee
        Lee-nam, Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Seoul. Korea
        Super Message of Art-Smart,Gyeongnam rt Museum,Changwon, Korea
        Korea Tomorrow,SETEC, Convention Hall, Seoul Korea, Korea
        Desired Place, Gallery LEE, Seoul, Korea
        Small is beautiful, Gallery IS, Seoul, Korea
        Acts of 2011 based the Forest Bamboo, Damyang Cultural Center Special Exhibition Gallery,
        Damyang, Korea
        All sots of stories, Gamae, Gwangju, Korea
        Korean Art Show 2011, La Venue, USA
        Art Zoo, Gwangju, Korea
        On Music&In Art, Gallery EPOQUE, Seoul, Korea
        Rest, Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan, Korea
        The Sea of Peace, Incheon Art Platform, Incheon, Korea
          Les Medias, La Mode, La Morale, Hongik Museum of Art, Hongik University, Seoul, Korea
          HELLO Media Pole/BYOB, GALERY LVS, Seoul ,Korea
          LET, Museum Group Exercise, U-Square Gallery, Gwangju, Korea
          Lee Lee-Nam Media Artists with a Mysterious Male Fairy,WooJeGil Museum of Art,Gwangju,Korea
          Mountain, Light, Water, Color, Kamei, Gwangju, Korea

2010  G20 Seoul Summit Welcome Receyion Attachment, G20 Finance Minister's Meeting in Gyeongju/     
        Park Hyatt G20, Walkerhill, Tech Plus Forum, Korea
        Incheon International Digital Art Festival, Incheon
          Yellow gate, Gwangju Museum of Art
          The Lamp of The East, National Gallery of modern art, India
          Sangam-dong DMC Media Art, Seoul
          Korea International Art Fair_special exhibition, Seoul
          3th songzhuang Art Festival_ Korean Pavilion, Beijing
          the 20th Anniversary of the Korea-Russia Diplomatic Relations opening ceremony media art, Bolshoi Theater,  moscow,    Russia
2009 Asian Art in London , Alon ZikaimFine Art
Mind Topology, Nationaml Taiwan Museum of Fine Art, Taichung, Taiwan
Korean Contemporary Art Exhibition for Korea-Tunis 40th Chamber Anniversary, Muse'e de la Ville de Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia
Korean Eye: Moon Generation, The Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
Peace Dream Art Festival, CAS, Sevilla, Spain
Invired Tea Culture Nationsm Yale University Art Gallery, Connecticut, USA
Lost & Found, Rokeby Gallery, London, UK
The 3rd Gwangju Design Biennale-The Clue, Gwangju Biennale Center, Gwangju, Korea
Yokohama Port 150 Year Anniversary Exhibition, Yokohaman, Japan
Black & White:Natural Elements, Koo New York, New York USA
Artists, What is Science for You?, National Museum of Contemporary Art Traveling Art Museum, KAIST, Daejeon, Korea
3 Moscow biennale of contemporary art_special exhibition, Moscow, Russia
2008 Meme Trackers, Song Zhung Art Center, Beijing
2008 One Fine Spring Day, Gwangju Art Museum, Gwanju
2008 Collection Reconstructed, Gyeonggido Museum of Art
2008 Traveling Exhibition, Gyeonggido Provincial Museum
2008 Close to you, Cyan Museum of Art
2007 Asian art works. inc.,Chelsea, New York, U.S.A.
2007 Asian PAZIFIK WEEK, Berlin, Germany
2007 Shanghai International Art Fair, Shanghai, China
2007 Invitational Exhibition of HN gallery, Sydney, Australia
2007 Smithonian Korea Gallery Opening Festival, Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Washington, U.S.A.
2007 Beijing International Art Fair, China
2007 Korea International Art Fair, Korea
2007 New York International Art Fair, U.S.A.
2007 ZKM Thermocline of Art New Asian Waves, Germany
2006 Seoul International Media Art Biennale, Seoul
2006 Exhibition of Gwangju Biennale Orchestra
2006 Yeosu International Sculpture Festival, Yeosu Odongdo
2006 Busan International Media Performing Arts Display, Busan Civic Center, Busan
2006 The Exhibition of PISAF International Professor's Works, Bucheon
2006 The Exhibition of Ansan Media art, Ansan Center for Performing Arts, Ansan
2006 The Festival of Young Asian Artists for 2005, Seongwon Art Hall, Changwon
2005 The 15th Cheongdam Artists' competition, Gallery The Space, Seoul
2005 The Story about Fifteen Villages, Old Jeollanamdo Public Center, Gwangju
2004 The International Festival of Media/Installation/Performance, Busan City Hall, Busan
2004 The 1st Juan Media Culture Festival, Incheon
2004 The Exhibition for PISAF invited international professors, Bucheon Boksagol culture center, Bucheon
2004 The Exhibition of Jahwakong, Woojaegil Art museum, Gwangju
2003 The Cartoon in the Art, the Art in the Cartoon, The Museum of Ihwa Woman's University, Seoul
2003 The exhibition of subway cartoon display, Museum of Sejong Center for Performing Arts, Seoul
2003 Modern art media display, Daegu Culture and Art Center, Daegu
2002 Probation at Major display at the Gwangju Biennale
2002 Selected as a Ha, Jung Woong Youth Artist, Gwangju Art Museum, Gwanju
2001 The Exhibition of the association of Korean artists in England, Gallery Focus, London
2001 Chuncheon MBC modern sculpture invitations, Chuncheon MBC
Major Collections
Cheon Wa Dae (The President of Office), Geumnamro, Gwangyang Culture and art center, The sculpture park at Mt. Wolchul, Damyang University, Korea National Open University, Yonsei University, Chosun University, The May 18 Memorial Foundation, KBS, Gwangju Art Museum, Heanam Dinosaur Museum, SK Head Office, Jeonbuk Province Art Museum, Savina Museum, Bund18 Creative Center, Shanghai, Junnam Hampyeong, National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Gwangju MBC, Gyeonggi-do Provincial Museum, Cyan Museum of Art, Hana Bank, Daelim Contemporary Art Museum, Gyeonggi-do governor official residence

Awards & etc.
2010 22th Sun Gallery Art Award
2009 Young Artists of the year from the KoreanArtist's Day
2005 Special Award, Artist of the Year
2005 Award, Youth Artist of the Year
2005 Grand Prize, 8th Gwangju Shinsegae Art Competition
2002 Selected as a Ha Jung-Woong Youth Artist
2002 Grand Prize, SK Telecom Mobile Creative Film Festival
2001 Special Award, The National Sculptor's Association in Korea
1997 Special Award, The Grand Art Exhibition of Korea
1996 Special Award, Misulsegae New Frontier Exhibition
1994 First prize, Gwangju Arts Competition
1994 Grand Prize, Jeollanamdo Art Exhibition
1989 Special award, Mudeung Art Competition

Conversation between Monet and Sochi_ 2008
  • 2channel vide/ 11min 31sec

Master Landscape artists from the East and West come across and look at each other. Impression, Sunrise by Jean Claude Monet (1840-1926) and Autumn scene landscape by Sochi Heo Ryeon ( 1809-1892) are designed to create movement in Conversation between Monet and Sochi by Lee Lee-nam. In the 18th century, French artists were able to go out of the ateliers and immediately paint the outside landscape due to the invention of the potable oil pigment. The glory of academic style painting was considerably departed, and painters were eager to capture impressive moments onto canvas. At the same time in Joseon, Real Landscape Painting had been enormously popular for more than 100 years. Even though the notion and function of Eastern/ Western landscapes had evolved separately, Impression, Sunrise smoothly combines with Autumn scene landscapes in Conversation between Monet and Sochi. For this, Lee Lee-nam rearranges different times on the surface of his work by using cutting-edge di-vital tools and devices. While the sun sets, skyscrapers are being built in the background of each canvas, and two paintings seem to merge as if they were basically one. This artwork, transformed through time, has one more striking feature. Lee attempts to extract essential components from original works and seeks almost an abstract painting. His new style is possibly completed with two parts: the prologue of Autumn scene landscape covering over two screens, and the omission of the sun out of other elements impression, Sunrise. _ Hyunjung Woo

New-Bak-Yeon Fall 2009
  • LED TV, 3min 50 sec.

Bak-yeon, as one of the 3 famous waterfalls in Korea, is 37m high and 1.5m wide,
Height of Bak-yeon Fall in a painting by Jeong Seon looks like 100m high and 4m wide
comparing wuth a person in the picture. Some says that Jeong Seon Bak-yeon Fall is not
a painting for seeing but for listening. In other words, Jeong Seong's Bak-yeon Waterfall is
said visualization of sound. When we stand in front of the Lee's New-Bak-yeon Fall with
a roar of splashing water over the giant waterfall, we are overwhelmed by both of visual
and auditory senses. In addition to majesty of a waterfall, New-Bak-yeon Fall has additionl
interesting point as well. The title, sign, stamp in Jeong Seon's original painting are falling down
with water into pond Gomodam( a pond near by Bak-yeon Fall). Scholars change word as
they are watching this sight. While a young boy for some reason goes out of the frame and appears again.

Bamboo in Korean ink)- 2010
  • Single channel video, 4min 30sec
This work used Mukjukdo, a painting of Danwon Kim Hong-do(1745-1786) who was one of the most famouinters in Joseon Dynasty. Traditionally, the Four Gracious Plants (plum. orchid. chrysanthemum and bamboo) were usual subject in paintings of the literary artist. Among others, bamboo represent the integrity Seonbi(scholars in the middle era of the Joseon Dynasty's gentry). Lee Lee-nam animated Mukjukdo, which was painted nearly 200 years ago, using a digital image technique, In this old painting. he makes the wind, and let's snow fall. In Lee Lee-nam's, Mukjukdo, tile leaves of bamboo are swaying in the breeze. When the snow is falling  the boughs of bamboo weighed down with snow. Then snow gradually melts. The film repeat again. Over calm and silent time, between the screen, two spaces meet each other. Kim Hong-do is known for painting the daily lives of ordinary people. For this. he was referred to as a master of humour. The fact that he drew Mukjukdo is unusual. Mukjukdowas different from his ordinary paintings. Normally, Mukjukdo added a strong and severe spirit. But his version of Mukjukdo is totally different from the existing one. It is full of art and pleasure. Branches of bamboo divide thecanvas into two parts dramatically, and the stroke of the brush is very hectic. In this point the the two artists arc similar, in that both are tryin yo open a new prospect in the field of art with their own interpretation. The bamboo that had to stand straight was folded by Kim Hong-do, and Lee is an heir of Kim Hong-do's wit with a contemorary digital sense of 2010. The two artists are coming acros each other in the screen delightfully_ Sunkyung Kim


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