Dongwook Lee’s New Human Species

The human figure is at the forefront of the research and production of the young Korean artist Dongwook Lee. His remodelling of the body is an obsession that had led him over the last few years to breathe life into a new human species, an army of figures characterised by two leitmotifs: Dongwook’s man is always to be found naked and in miniature. On one hand, working on a microscopic level links him up to a long tradition of interest in the skilful rendering of minute details in a small-scale reality; on the other, it reflects a desire to cover up, camouflage or conceal these “figurines” in the backwaters of the most banal normality to which they might instinctively belong. One pokes his head out from the shell of a snail; another cries out desperately from behind a dry twig like a malignant wood spirit; yet another is to be found squashed inside a syringe, as if ready to be injected to another body along with all his dramatic charge. Their nudity seems to reflect the will to do away with the mystification of the human body, to show it without frills, without any indication of social status. It is here that Dongwook would appear to denote a break with the cultural traditions of his origins.

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