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Mash-up Strategy

Lee Ji-hyun’s painting uses a postmodern dramaturgy that asserts that culture is an illogical sequence of event through time and space, and enacts a collaged reality. Like fragments of ceramics unearthed by archaeology, Lee embodies the shattered debris of culture and reassembles historical moments into her mew painting. Her painting explores the notion that there is no originality in contemporary art, stretching the limits of postmodern pastiche through radical appropriation of history and time. Lee picks up images from the times she live in, she quotes sources and inserts into her painting unedited pieces of evidence of the real world. Lee accumulates images for her painting from the cultural and historical debris that she personally travels. The detritus of culture and her own personal experiences are central to Lee’ art. In this way, Lee’s painting is at the cutting edge of the evolution of contemporary painting.
Lee’s painting in confrontational, engaging directly both time and space. Her work reflects the understanding that both time and space have the power to construct identities and narratives. Interrogating what she calls “mash-up” strategies of fragmentation and discontinuity to intervene in the seamless culture representation of time and space, appropriating media images, reworking them through fragmentation, cropping, or placement, and setting them in opposition to other images within the frame of a facade of an architecture, she draw on postmodern concepts of the “gaze” as institutionalized perspective, the system of images and discourse through which subjects are constructed.
Mash-up” or collage is a starting point. Lee focuses on mainstream art and on practices that juxtapose fragmented elements selected from styles throughout her journey to many places. But she does not glue objects on the canvas but draws an illusion using traditional brushstrokes. She has utilized collaged image as a method for representing postmodern cultural fragmentation in her painting. The line between private and public, Eastern and Western, present and past are deconstructed and reassembled in accordance with her artistic composition of narratives. She begins with ancient Western architectures such as museums, shrines and repositions them to include the visual language of her private space. She does not claim ownership of out of multiple,  fragmented cultural images found in collage, a strategy for collecting historical and cultural heritages and connects them to her own lives and to current social and cultural concerns. She enlarges the capacity of her painting to include and set in relationship fragments from multiple perspectives and from diverse cultures.
The architecture serves as a frame, functioning to heighten the awareness of time and space and leading viewers to recognize that her painting – its various representation and interpretations – is itself a construction of a new reality. Lee’s panting is fragmented and discontinuous, but it goes well beyond notions of postmodern collage as a collection of unrelated fragments. Her “mash-up” strategies are directed not only toward deconstructing conventional conceptions of reality but also toward constructing new vision of reality where we all are capable of multiple perceptions. To this purpose, Lee develops a strategy that juxtaposes opposing perspectives and angles, introducing the viewpoint capable of deconstructing each other. The diverse perspectives prohibit the viewer from constructing a totalized narrative and a unified position from which to view her painting, encouraging the viewer to participate in multiple perspectives and interpretation.
Lee pursues visual experiments in dismantling traditional realistic representation, mixing images from her journey to different locations and assembling fragmented elements through a method of juxtaposition. At that point, her collaged images from her personal experience become a remade reality. Lee seizes upon collage as an artistic strategy with which to mount her analysis on the chaotic reality where everything is confusingly mixed together. Her technique of abruptly juxtaposing and linking disparate fragment is viewed as a means of undermining conventional associations and shocking the viewer into a perception of a new reality – social, cultural and psychological, as well as aesthetic.
The repeated shift in time, place, and perspectives create a jostling of identity and action. Her narrative includes a discontinuous series of incomplete flashbacks and multiple perspectives, featuring shifting identities, spaces, and times. In this way, we come to see her personal history not as a unified must be comprehended in its own, quite different, cultural context.
Her “mash-up” is not a vacuous pastiche of disconnected fragments. She uses it as a means for putting things without divesting them of their own identities. It is a kind of collage of positive fragmentation with healing instinct to get the piece into some sort of new order. And this is the essence of the new series by Lee Ji-hyun.

By Daehyung Lee / Director of H•ZONE

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