SEOUL, June 9 (Yonhap) -- He wasn't particularly interested in creating art with stones in the beginning. He'd been collecting colorful, unique stones from all around the world and he had to do something with them. They were simply too beautiful and interesting not to do so.
Lee Dong-wook has established his own formidable art world by making elaborate, eerie figurines from a clay-like material called Sculpey. The miniatures of small, naked humans are bottled in a can, a vitamin pill takes the form of a human face, and a distraught face is locked inside a glass jar. Pink-skinned, grotesque nudity in his art is effective in describing the anxiety and weakness of a human being full of desire.
"Sailor" by Lee Dong-wook (2004) (Yonhap)
"Dress" by Lee Dong-wook, mixed media 18x12,5x5.6cm (2012) (Yonhap)
In his new exhibition "All the Interestings," his first in two years, he's turned his attention to stones, or more precisely, gemstones.
Having been intrigued by the materials, the 40-year-old artist rearranged and configured his collection, some of which was brought from as far as Africa, to make it into a 14-meter-long installation artwork.
"Come to think about it, I always liked stones. This exhibit came about because of my pure interest in them," the artist said on Thursday.
The giant installation, on display at the Perigee Gallery in southern Seoul from June 9-August 6, consists of hundreds of sparkling gemstones in different colors and shapes. By using figurines, wooden sticks, mushrooms and nets, he's created a new, abstract and obscure world on top of the stone foundation that is open to various interpretations.
He, himself, spared his breath in explaining his work. He seemed more eager to let gallery-goers take in the creation born out of his curiosity and imagination and interpret the work however they like.
Director Shin Seung-oh at the gallery said a stone is what human skin was in Lee’s previous works.
"Stones, which cover the surface of the earth, work to draw a boundary. Through the material, the artist talks about external and internal conflicts and a possibility of coexistence between universality and diversity."
Lee is the ninth artist chosen by the non-profit gallery run by mobile phone parts maker KHVATEC in the "Perigee Artist" series where the gallery introduces and sponsors young, contemporary Korean artists.
Majoring in painting from prestigious art school Hongik University in Seoul, he's actively participated in various solo and group exhibitions overseas.
In 2009, he was invited to London's Saatchi Gallery as a member of the "Korean Eye: Moon Generation" exhibit that was designed to introduce young up and coming Korean artists.
"All the Interestings," mixed media, dimension variable (2016) (Yonhap)
A close-up shot of "All the Interestings," mixed media, dimension variable (2016) (Yonhap)