South Korean artist Lee Lee Nam (b.1969) creates amalgamations of today's high-tech environment and traditional culture. With exceptional finesse, he creates mesmerising digital and video works that juxtapose European old master paintings and traditional Asian art with modern day imagery. The artworks are overlaid and interwoven like a palimpsest, creating an image as fictitious as dreams overlapping reality.
For example, at the Saatchi Gallery, London, the static iconography of swans, butterflies, and birds moves across an eight-fold LED monitor surrounded by traditional Asian folding screens. Boats float across the screens, butterflies scatter, it begins to snow in both a Korean and a European old master work, creating a likeness between the two images in appearance and mood. These digitalised paintings are as alluringly beautiful as they are surprisingly familiar: as if the world's most famous paintings have come alive to correspond and compare, and by encompassing both the traditional and modern – in style and medium – Lee Lee Nam’s works can be called a truly post-modern narrative.
Lee Lee Nam believes that video can express the human imagination more thoroughly than other media and is able to convey atmosphere and surprise more readily than traditional art forms. According to the artist, he hopes his work is a way for him to give something back to the people, to create a moment of quiet and calm in a busy modern world. However, there seems to be more in Lee Lee Nam's creations than beauty alone: references to today's consumerism and label-orientated modern societies suggest a more complex and critical narrative.
Lee Lee Nam studied sculpture at the College of Fine Arts, Chosun University, Korea, where he graduated in 1995. However, his interest in animation led him to study Media Art at the Graduate School of Communication and Arts of Yonsei University, Korea, where he completed his Doctorate in Fine Arts in 2007. He has said he would like to be called a "media artist", and generally, he is referred to as such. His work has been shown internationally including at the Hong Kong Art Centre, Hong Kong (2010); Sun Gallery, Korea (2010); Alon Zakaim Fine Art, London (2009); and The Detroit Wayne State University Art Centre, Detroit (2011); and at ARTMIA, Beijing, 2013. He is also exclusive artist of SAMSUNG Electronics. Lee Lee Nam lives and works in Gwangju, Korea.