Mina Lee- Mirror Meets Emotion
Young Taek Park (Art Critique, Kyongi University Professor)
Feathers of ink, feathers of powder, and feathers of lead – from the surface of a large paper an outstretched wing appears. Even from a terrestrial perspective, the outstretched wing does not belong to a caged bird or to a wild bird, but rather the portrayed wing is a mere glimpse of something much more celestial. Taoists hermits, Da Vinci, and Daidalos, shared the dream of such winged icons. This shared dream of these iconic winged beings spans time, place, and race. In Korea’s Goryeo Dynasty, large wing models were buried along with the dead’s personal and prized belongings. Later on, bird feathers, were attached to the hats of revered statesmen of the Korean government and to the garment of traditional Korean costumes. Eaves of the traditional Korean houses were symbolically decorated with winged ornaments. Even in gesture, these winged symbols brought the human spirit closer to what it desires and what it longs to have.
Whether it is to defy the laws of gravity or to transcend the real world, the symbol of bird wings is inherently drawn in our minds. Although conventional, the imagery of wings is often used to rattle against the cages of societal norms. Soaring upwards and beyond, the wings in the art of Mina Lee elevate beyond the aforementioned imagery, and in fact, escapes the practical meaning of a winged icon. Through the proliferation of lines, directivity, and the sensation of movement the art derives overflowing vitality. Although Mina Lee’s abstraction of lines is fluid, the concrete imagery captivates the viewer to watch the piece. However, as one would not fully understand the depth of the supernatural, Mina Lee’s meaning is hardly limited to this world.
The inner contour of Mina Lee’s work consists of dense, hair-like lines. The precisely knitted lines resemble the roots of trees or even the beat of a breath. When stretched to its full extent, the lines seem to speak of time and term. The image of the wing is articulated well in its use of utility, illustration, and expression of the crafted lines. Moreover, East Asian influence of deriving meaning from individual line strokes is also present.
Mina Lee’s work contains an extremely large black void. This exaggerated element with in the work exudes an emotion of desolation, sublime horror, and sheer awe. Deep smoky lines connect the structure of the wing. The affect of these lines is an emotion of continuing escape, stretching and moving into infinity. The work as a whole, reminds us of our own mechanical limitation to see the true nature and true depth. In fact, the massive nature of the work, both conceptually and technically, at first seems like an unsurpassable mountain; however, through labor, discipline, and restraint, the artist uses self-curative methods to transcend.
The physical act of creating the sheer number of lines across the massive surface is an act that is assuredly feathered in unpredictability. Each element of the work’s creation must consider the factor of the time; furthermore, at each element, the artist is faced with the horror of uncertainty. These factors elevate Mina Lee’s work. The work’s dimension clearly shows the devotion and discipline of the artist. Simultaneously, the lower edges of the work celestially bridges reality and the realm of existentialism. Mina Lee’s work corroborates different elements to form evidence of the sublime and idealism.
Mina Lee’s wing is a collection of unique, minute lines that merge to not only create a greater image, but also to convey the individual life of each of the lines. Each line does not seek to replicate or to exist to give form to the greater image. The lines in the work represent a personalized existence – similar to that of a feather. The hue and depth of the ink employed by the artist creates a black aura that lives with in the monochromatic surface. This combination depicts an unknowingness that is stretched into darkness and fear. However, the darkness is also symbolic of the origin of nature’s creation. It is in darkness that the womb cultivates life and the possibilities of the life’s future are portrayed in the affirming chords of color. On this tangent, the black color was chosen to represent the unknowing depth and natural curiosity of one’s origins.
Art is often used to trigger introspection among its viewers. Perhaps for that reason, artists hope that viewers can mirror their own emotions of reverence, fear, sublimity, and admiration in the work. However, the monochromatic surface of Mina Lee’s work does not simply reflect or is a mere reproduction of an emotion. Via this simple observation, the artist’s work is far from existing pieces. Mina Lee’s work is more of a statement that is issued to the viewers. This statement forces the viewer to use her work as a flight point – a point in which internal conversations, or perhaps a topic of meditation, can be begun. Mina Lee’s work portrays the conflicting emotions of tranquility and destitution, which urges contemplation and introspection. The balance between, or even paradox of, articulated meaning versus beauty, is represented in this piece. The expansive nature, both in depth and dimension, of the wing, the viewers encounter both the breath of each line as well as the infinite state and sublimity of the icon portrayed. To this effect, the work should be categorized as an installation drawing; a monochromatic ink drawing that utilizes its physical nature to bring forth new dimensions of understanding and contemplation that creates a space for its viewers to release its psyche.
from the leaflet : March. 2007