Friday, September 4, 2015


Hyun-Hee Lee_White Tears_2014_Korean paper, pencil, ink, cotton thread_350 x150cm

To coincide with her solo exhibition Secrete, we asked Sydney-based Korean artist Hyun-Hee Lee to talk to us about her practice, why she makes art and the way in which her work is informed by Korean culture and buddhist practice.

Describe your work in 100 words or less: 

My works are derived from very personal experiences and memories that I have recalled from my life in Korea. Many of these involve the relationship with various rituals and practices, which are prevalent in Korean culture. My art reinterprets many of these in a contemporary context, often reinventing the original intent and place specific objectives but maintaining a connection with materials and methodologies which are symbolic and spiritual to Korean sensibilities. 

Hyun-Hee Lee_White Tears_2014_Korean paper, pencil, ink, cotton thread_350 x150cm

How has your artistic practice changed over time? 

My early work was derived from my diaries and memories of Korea. Now I still express those ideas and personal experiences. I reinterpret them in a contemporary context using the rituals and practices that are an integral part of Korean culture. Also, the mediums I use now are more delicate and fragile, such as silk and Korean paper. Almost all my work is now installation based and my methodology has become more important to me.

Hyun-Hee Lee_Devotion #2_2015_Korean paper, pencil, silk, silk thread_60 x 60cm

How do you work? Can you tell me about your process? 

Normally I do meditation to clear my mind before I start work so I can totally concentrate, as my working process is important to me. I plan my work very methodically; quantifying exactly what is needed in the choice of materials and how they will work with my concept. 

What themes and ideas do you pursue? 

Through my art practice my aim is to establish a spiritual and cultural connection with my country of birth by exploring the religious rituals and practices that are fundamental and widespread in Korean life 
and how they have influenced me. 

I came to Australia more than a decade ago and I was having great feelings of nostalgia about my family and my culture. I explore the rituals and practices that my family use and I recreate them as a way of expressing my memories. This has become a fundamental way for me to establish and maintain 
emotional and spiritual connections. 

Hyun-Hee Lee_Penitence #2_2015_Korean paper, ink, pencil, silk, silk thread_60 x 60cm

Where would you like to be in 5 years? 

Five years ago I was doing my BFA. Since then I believe I have come a long way in understanding both my art practice and myself. Five years further on I would hope my art practice will develop as much as it has prior to now. I would also like to assume that my work will be seen on a more international level.

Hyun-Hee Lee's exhibition Secrete can be seen at Artereal Gallery until 3 October 2015.
(Please note Artereal Gallery will be closed from 9-13 September for Sydney Contemporary Art Fair).

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