Wed, Dec 17, 2008 - Page 15 News List

Canvases in motion

Lee Lee Nam combines iconic paintings from the Eastern and Western cannons with his own digital flourishes to create video installations that are sublime to behold

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER


Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa greets visitors as they enter Metaphysical Gallery’s latest exhibition. Only this one has eyes that move and follow the lugubrious movements of small aircraft that fly in front of her dropping parachutists.

Monalisa’s Smile is the first of 15 video installations, collectively titled Myth Inside Monitor, by South Korean artist Lee Lee Nam. It is ideally placed in the entranceway to the gallery both because it lures the viewer in further and hints at the content of the other works.

Lee begins each work with an iconic painting culled from the Western or Eastern painterly cannons (sometimes both together in the same work) and, using digital technology, adds his own visual elements. What emerge are sublime meditations on the various cycles found in nature and the contrast between the natural world of plants, insects and animals, and the human-created world of visual art and architecture. The running time of each video ranges from three minutes to 10 minutes.

The Conversation Between Monet and Sochee brings together many of the phenomena Lee investigates, such as day and night and the contrast between tradition and modernity.

Two 19th-century paintings —an Asian landscape painting by South Korean artist Sochee (whose real name is Huh Ryun) and an impressionist landscape by Claude Monet — are placed together side by side, highlighting the differences between the two styles of art. As the video progresses the

paintings begin to interact, seasons change and day turns into night. The foreground comes alive with the

movement of the painting’s original characters (in this case fishermen), while a cityscape emerges in the background.


WHAT: Lee Lee Nam’s Myth Inside Monitor

WHERE:Metaphysical Art Gallery (形而上畫廊), 7F, 219, Dunhua S Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市敦化南路一段219號7樓)

WHEN: Until Jan. 4

DETAILS: Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 6:30pm


Lee seems preoccupied with the differences between natural landscapes and his own digitally created cityscapes. Large illuminated buildings and cranes emerge in the craggy rocks of a traditional Korean mountain scene in New Genmgangjeondo. Another video, Circulation — Nature — Human-2, shows a single rock jutting out from a body of water — a metaphor, perhaps, for the Earth. The rock, which at first provides a home for trees and shrubs, becomes the surface for a city that gradually emerges.

The Landscape of Moon Jar-2 playfully shows the four seasons in progression and the effect each one has on the “moon jar.” Butterflies dance around a blossoming branch that juts out of the white porcelain jar. As the seasons pass, the joyous butterflies disappear, petals fall from the branch, and snow falls gently onto the surface of the wood and jar.

Not content simply to have monitors hanging from the walls, Lee embeds them into a variety of objects. The remarkable Digital Eight-fold Screen is, as the title suggests, eight folding screens, each with a monitor displaying a traditional work of art. Korea — Towards the New World employs the same idea, except here the monitors are significantly smaller — the size of a credit card and almost as thin — and serve as the masts of a boat.

One minor criticism of the exhibit is that seating is not provided — a flaw that might inhibit visitors from giving the works the contemplation they so readily deserve.


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