Lee Lee Nam is famous for breathing life and animation into traditional art in a way that reinvents the imagery through the lens and preoccupations of the contemporary world. With the help of digital tools, the artist plays with the limits of time and space imposed on two dimensional representation.
In BOOK - Landscape, Lee Lee Nam borrows two traditional works by different artists, from different regions and periods - and combines the two: Visiting a Friend in the Moonlit, by Dai Jin (right hand side illustration), and A Landscape by Xie Shichen (left hand side). The images depict everyday life in rural China and come alive, evolving through the seasons and drawing the viewer into the narrative . Flora and fauna change through spring and summer, until the landscapes are drowned by snowfall and night; figures are animated; a punter moves his boat; tradesmen travel with their animals and goods across the screen. The two images are graphically framed as a lot in an auction catalogue and illustrated with titles, date and signature stamp. However, the soundtrack and hybrid animation that moves between frames (the frame of the book and the frame of the screen) expand and confuse any time-space narrative: what is inside and what is outside, what is real and what is fiction, becomes blurred.
Lee Lee Nam’s BOOK - Landscape allows two unrelated works to generate a visual dialogue and transcend the barriers between past and present. In presenting - as parts of a whole - two distinct and separate works, BOOK - Landscape calls into question our understanding of temporal boundaries, and offers a new perspective of time, space, history and art - it is a beautiful example of Lee Lee Nam’s oeuvre, and a powerful dialogue between old and new.