Lee Lee Nam's appropriation of images from the art historical canon challenges the viewer's notion of authenticity and reproduction, sharpening our awareness of the cultural, symbolic and economic exchange of globalization. Beneath his amusing videos, semiotic discourse is embedded for viewers to ponder as Lee re-tunes works of old masterpieces by making small yet dramatic alterations to their compositions, through adopting the characteristic of low art-popular culture's music video with high art's academic paintings.
Shrewdly synthesizing symbols of East and West, modernity and tradition, the succession of imagery in New-Danbalryeong Mangeumgang (Lot 1546) presents the urbanization of a traditional landscape. Lee inserts architectural and nationalistic symbols, recognized commodities indexing Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai and beyond to construct a symbolic hub that overall defines globalization; a concept deeply rooted and consciously traced from the long history of globalization from the beginning of the developments of maps, worldwide exploration and maritime travel. With each cinematic field, the mist disperses in thin cool night air, disclosing the bright neon cityscape, prompting our inner explorer and feeling for adventure. Lee continues to modulate occurrence, but this time in mimicry of the anxiously unstable persona of Vincent Van Gogh in New-Self portrait (Lot 1698). Each frame is altered in subtle visual rhythms by adapting pictorial motifs from various Van Gogh's paintings, extracting momentous images and fueling them into its aesthetically correlating portraits suggestive of Van Gogh's own shifting moods. Lee's conscious insertion of these playful events further heightens the three-dimensionality of the environment. By generating a sense of presence/life that astutely coincides with his subtle criticism on celebration of duplication and simulation, he continues to willfully utilize the dialogic and information flow streamed by television and videos to advocate for the circulation of these cultural entities and for capitalist expansionism, challenging both the intellect and senses.