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Pavilion of Korea Padiglione ai Giardini di Castello
Castello, Venice Italy

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Pavilion of Korea

at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

Press Release

Exhibition Title: The Love is gone but the Scar will heal
Commissioner: Yun Cheagab
Exhibitor: Lee Yongbaek

Arts Council Korea is pleased to announce “The Love is gone but the Scar will heal,” a solo presentation of works by Lee Yongbaek at the Korean Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale from June 4 to November 27, 2011. The exhibition will feature five works in video, sculpture, and painting that reveals the pain in the history of Korea's modern politics and culture, and its hope for the future. It connotes the past, present, and future of Korea passing through the inflow of Western civilization, colonization and liberation, division of the country, ultrahigh speed economic development and its aftereffects, and a maturity that the Koreans now want to hold. The exhibition is curated by commissioner Yun Cheagab.

The exhibition will present five works of Lee's works: Angel- Soldier, Broken Mirror, Pieta: Self-death, Pieta: Self-hatred, and Plastic Fish. Angel-Soldier is a video performance in which Lee questions the nature of civilization by identifying antinomic subjects, angel and soldier, and distorts the social situation of Korea, which is still in a ceasefire period. Soldiers wearing military uniforms in flower prints slowly move in an artificial flower jungle. Their camouflage, trickery, and desperate movement present the current situation of Korea, in which the interests and strategies of four powers (US, Japan, China, and Russia) and those of South and North Koreas cross in secret.

The Broken Mirror is comprised of a mirror, a flat screen, and a computer. In this video work, the mirror seems to suddenly break, and creates an illusion that the mirror is actually breaking. The artist questions the border between what is real and what is not, and through this, Lee builds overwhelming pressure of self-disruption.

The series Pieta is a pair of sculptures, 4 meters high and 3 meters wide, uses both the molded figure and the mold itself. In Pieta: Self-death, the mold of Virgin Mary holds molded Jesus. The work Pieta: Self-hatred shows the molded figure attacking and destroying the original mold it is made from. This series metaphorically expresses Angel Soldier-Photo, 2011, Digital print, 250x180cm contradictions of human existence, atheistic, materialistic modern society and its disquieting madness, absurd situations of Korea in which Eastern and Western values coexist, and so on.

Plastic Fish is a painting that Lee shows on canvas artificial plastic floats in vibrant colors arranged in parallel rows. The painting's rich coloring is as strong as Korea's ancient painting “Shamanic God Painting”. In it, the artist suggests how “fake fish” captures the “real fish” to survive, yet, the real, natural fish is then abducted by its own attempt to survive. This brutal logic is, in fact, created by humans, and this logic also surrounds us, humans, in different ways.

Lee Yongbaek unravels political and cultural issues of Korea occurring in the early 21st century through the visual form of contemporary art. Although he has always made new attempts in wide fields, his pieces have not lacked the unity of their overall context and have maintained a taut tension. This achievement itself shows well his artistic, inner power that he has accumulated in over twenty years. This artistic, inner power has been strongly built through not only his interest in technology, but also his continual observation of human relationships with culture, politics, and nature.

Lee Yongbaek has performed experiences in various technologies, from single-channel video, audio systems, kinetics, to robotics. In particular, he is recognized as the representative artist in these artistic fields in Korea. The reason his work is highly evaluated is not only due to his technological experiments, but also due to his attempt through which he contains in his pieces the peculiar issues of Korean politics and culture, and his imagination in the form of these technologies. Recently, he has been presenting pieces created using new styles, covering wide range of genres from video art, which he has long been concentrating on, to sculpture and painting. This kind of attempt is one of his strengths. He does not insist on using only familiar forms, but always tries something new while maintaining a unity with his existing works. The presentation of his recent works has become an opportunity to effectively arrange and highlight his wide interests, which deal with life, society, religion, and politics.

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