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The Third Space
Lee Yoon-mi’s paintings are on MDF, vessel-shaped surfaces, executed with a certain thickness. With each, the artist depicts imaginative scenes of nature, daily life, and childhood days. In them, vessels with pictures have no shadow of their own; some vessels have a picture instead of a black shadow. In addition, geometrically rendered lines crossing the venue bring about forms in a three-dimensional space. These forms as well as unique shadows, neither abstract nor representational, become elements provoking a feeling of ‘unfamiliarity within familiarity’. Lee’s variable installation Unfamiliarity, Familiarity, with lines and objects operating in two-dimensional and three-dimensional space, not organized organically, evokes enormous tension. In this work, like objects in a three-dimensional space, lines create stools or pedestals for vessels on the wall. Despite a bundle of thread in the corner, it’s hard to know where they begin or end.  
Shadows within Lee’s work disturb representational familiarity: they are a twist of reality. And the lines throughout the venue vary these shadows to create a phenomenal world, far from a world of true beings.  In Lee’s work the world of shadows, or illusion, does not keep up with the world of reality. By doing it, Lee avoids the rule of representation that distinguishes true being from imitation.
And although each shadow and three-dimensional drawing expresses a state of lack, or absence, they push things out of space into a stable settlement and isolated representation.
Plato’s allegory of the cave is a source of representationalism, and dualism between reality and illusion. In it, humans are able to grasp truth only through reflections of reality from outside, and thus shadows within are farthest things from truth. Victor I. Stoichita pointed out in his book A Short History of the Shadow, that within the history of representation, shadows are invested with negative meaning. Lee Yoon-mi, however, puts more importance on the invisible than the visible, refusing the tradition of representation, even though Stoichita said painting first derives from the contour of human shadows. A first reproduction was caused by leave of a lover. Such reproduction aimed originally to help turn absence into presence.
Unlike mirror images, shadow images are possible only by the presence of others. They confirm others, not the manifest the self. While the mirror represents things in the same time and space, a shadow’s reproduction is at a different level. The shadow is not a manifestation of the self but a likeness of others.
Through shadows and their variations, Lee’s work pursues the root of images.
In the history of images, a symbolic system centered on perspective has become internalized by an ordering of modern consciousness. The world of shadows, strongly suggested in Lee’s work, threatening to beings, is a deviation from the order of representation, popular since the Renaissance. In this context, it is surely no accident the vessel, bearing all in its vacant body, resembles the primordial form –the chora- that breaks down this distinction and order created by human conscious.
By LEE Sun-young / art critic

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