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Lyrical and philosophical photography: Darren Almond and Myoung Ho Lee share similar sensibilities

Dec 06,2018
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British artist Darren Almond’s “Fullmoon above the Sea of Fog” (2011), left, and Korean artist Myoung Ho Lee’s “Nothing, But #2”(2018), right. The solo shows of the two artists are now ongoing at PKM Gallery and Gallery Hyundai in the art zone east of Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul. [PKM GALLERY, GALLERY HYUNDAI]
The solo shows of artists Darren Almond and Myoung Ho Lee, both famous for their photographic works in particular, are both taking place in the art zone east of Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul. While their photos share lyrical and philosophical sensibilities, their contexts are different from each other.

British artist Almond’s best-known photo series “Fullmoon,” of which four pieces are now on view at PKM Gallery, touch on themes of time and memory.

To capture the calm and contemplative seascapes, the 47-year-old artist used “an exposure of between 15 and 50 minutes under the reflected light of the full moon. I give the subjects time to express themselves.”

“I don’t deal with a glance,” he said at a press preview last month. “The duration of exposure is the duration of time and experiences. [My] landscapes are a means of bringing back memories.”

He also said he is interested in 19th-century Romantic landscape paintings, pointing out his “Fullmoon above the Sea of Fog,” which was inspired by German Romantic painter Caspar D. Friedrich’s iconic “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog.”

Not only this work, but also other pieces from Almond’s “Fullmoon” series, in their color tones and ambience, will remind art fans of Friedrich’s symbolic landscapes.

“My works are connected to an inquiry into the concept of time,” Almond said. His latest “Reflect Within” series, also on display at PKM, are about time, too, he said. They are paintings of numbers on mirrors, inspired by a train station’s flip clock.

Meanwhile, Korean artist Lee’s best-known “Tree” and “Mirage” series, some of which are now on view at Gallery Hyundai, are about representation.

At first glance, the tree in Lee’s “Tree” photo series looks like a life-sized tree picture printed on a big white canvas and installed in natural surroundings. But actually, the tree is a real tree with a canvas installed behind it. In this way, Lee’s work is like an inverse trompe l’oeil. A traditional trompe l’oeil is an optical illusion in which a painting looks like reality. On the other hand, Lee’s works make viewers think the tree is a picture. In other words, viewers think that the real is a representation.

“For a long time, I’ve been interested in the issue of representation in art,” the 43-year-old artist said at the gallery on Tuesday. “[That interest] brought about my new series ‘Nothing, But’ which I am premiering here. I installed a canvas in nature, at a wide mud flat in the west coast, but this time, the canvas visually represents nothing. However, the canvas can carry everything.”

Lee also introduced a 2016 limited edition wine from Chateau Laroque, Grand Cru Classe of Saint Emilion, whose label art he created. The photo work for the label is also on view. It captures a big purple-colored canvas installed in the winery. He said he dyed the canvas with around 67 bottles of wine.

BY MOON SO-YOUNG [symoon@joongang.co.kr]


Almond’s solo show runs through Dec. 30. Admission is free. For details, visit www.pkmgallery.com. Lee’s solo show runs through Jan. 6. Admission is free. For details, visit www.galleryhyundai.com.