Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hyungkoo Lee

I just came across the work of Hyungkoo Lee. In a series of self-portraits he explores ideas about identity using a clear helmet fitted with distorting lenses.

From the Arario Gallery site:

Following these two great artists’ lead, Hyungkoo Lee created a distorting transparent plastic helmet to make his self-portraits. This helmet is fitted with interchangeable concave and convex lenses which shrink, expand and distort the features. This exquisite headgear allows the wearer to engage in all normal daily activities, listening breathing, smelling even smoking. In the portraits is hard to recognize that they are all of the same person, so much does the helmet transform Lee’s appearance. In one portrait, his eyes are huge and protruding, in another, his nose and lips are ridiculously enlarged, in yet a third he looks like he has Down’s syndrome with the typically widened forehead.

The grotesque is a unifying concept in his series of self-portrait, an intentional disregard for conventional standards of physical beauty in proportion, harmony and balance of the body parts. This disregard seems related to the alienness he experienced while visiting the US, which provoked an urgent groping for his own Asian identity.

In another series he has recreated the skleletal remains of some of the worlds most famous cartoon characters.

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