Miju Lee

Draw Lucid Things

Miju Lee

As indicated by the exhibition title—Draw Lucid Things—Miju Lee depicts clear objects. However, the images in her paintings seem to be viewed from a “chiaroscuro” state, rather than a clear consciousness, as if they are emerging from fantasies, daydreams, and dozing. Some dreams are so clear that we mistake them for reality, even after we are awake. Resonating with both clear and unclear meanings that cannot be described in words, these deeply emotional, fleeting scenes tend to quickly volatilize from memory. Miju Lee has shown a unique talent for faithfully translating these indescribable scenes into paintings.

From 2016 to 2020, Miju Lee primarily focused on still-life paintings or indoor scenes with people. The objects in her paintings seem to exaggerate their own patterns, to the point that they seem to come to life, creating extraordinary relationships with the other objects or people in the scene. In some cases, the facial expressions of the people seem to have melted and flowed away, or popped right out of the frame, leaving a bizarre jumble of events with no stable perspective, like a nightmare. In Sleeping Disorders (2017), one person covered with a blanket seems to be trying to wake up with a toy pellet drum, but another person (or another self) uses a book or smartphone to project images of night that radiate with an unfamiliar gaze. Meanwhile, the dog design on the blanket comes to life, running into this strange night space.

Self-reflexion (2020) documents the momentary phantasms that occur on a table that is scattered with various items, including a clock, glasses, stationery box, notebooks, and frames. The entire surface is filled with medium-toned colors, produced with colored pencils, yielding a soft and dreamlike ambiance. Tiny faces are sprouting everywhere, looking at a blurry figure in the middle who sheds bloodshot tears. Stretched faces of women (resembling the artist herself) pour out of a watering can, while tears flow from some of their eyes. Thus, the image seems to express the artist’s psychological projections on the objects in her vicinity.

In Miju Lee’s works, objects are woven with the artist’s thoughts, causing space to lose all physical consistency. The objects are arranged like a collage, emphasizing the flattened surface. Until Tomorrow Sunrise (2020) shows a woman wearing pajamas (or a hospital gown) reaching through a window to hold a round object that might be the moon or a mirror reflecting her crying face. Another mirror in the room shows a partial view of a second person who seems to be wearing a headset and looking at the first woman. Although the two reflections seem to be different people in different spaces (like the artist and viewer), they might also be the same person at different stages of life. Such is the strange and exceptional world of Miju Lee’s paintings, composed of everyday stories of sadness, dreams, and random attachments.

Artistic Director Jinsang Yoo

In her notes, Miju Lee wrote, “When I began to accept that I did not have to be something, I suddenly wanted to capture sights with no purpose. I felt alive with the joy of such acts.” While this type of statement from an artist can be interpreted as representing a pure act of creation, I was more reminded of an individual’s struggle to escape from the alienated labor practices of the capitalist system. This might be because Miju Lee’s images convey a familiar feeling, but are also very different from anything else in the contemporary art system. Imagine a world where nothing that we do seems strange, because nothing can define us: could we ever feel more free? And this freedom is meaningful not because it is pure, but because it arises when we take a certain distance from institutions and structures.

from a review by Jaehwan Kim (editor of B-Art, curator of Gyeongnam Art Museum)

Miju Lee
b.1982
Solo Exhibitions
2019

Friends from Miju Lee, Lotte Gallery, Seoul

Draw Lucid Things, Yeemock Gallery, Seoul

2018

Secret Garden, Busan Citizen’s Hall, Busan

Secret Garden, Bongsan Art Center, Daegu

Miju Lee´s Group Exhibition, Gallery Meme, Seoul

2017

Art Plage: Summer Diary, Lotte Gallery, Seoul

2016

Memories, When Your Eyes Are Closed, Yeemock Gallery, Seoul

2015

Glimpse, Miboo Art Center, Busan

2014

Fulanitu i Menganita, Yeemock Gallery, Seoul

2012

Realidad Mijúscula, Mutt Gallery, Barcelona

Selected Group Exhibitions
2020

Coto Placismo, Cerquone Project, Madrid

2019

Petit Chef d’Orchestre, Gamjeon Culture Playground, Busan

You, To Me, Busan Citizen’s Hall, Busan
The Imagination Picnic, Seongsan Art Hall, Changwon
Happy Lab, Jungrang Art Center, Seoul
Eco Ico, Alcheon Art Museum of Gyeongju Arts Center, Gyeongju
2018

Young Artist Festival, Shinsegae Gallery, Busan

Guam-Arts Wave, Lotte Gallery, Seoul
Memory Theater: Collecting and Assembling, Busan Museum of Art, Busan
2017

Future of Art, Daegu Art Factory, Daegu

Squat Seongsu, S-Factory, Seoul
Going to Busan, Lotte Gallery, Busan
Spring and Spare Time, Aram Museum, Goyang
2016

Reload, Cubic House of Clayarch Gimhae Museum, Gimhae

Improvisation and Ferment, Hongti Art Center, Busan
2015

No Penso Callar, Amnesty International Catalonia, Tapies Museum, Barcelona

Delicatessen 14, Ester Montriol Gallery, Barcelona

2014

Som Animals, Museum Frederic Marès of Altarriba Foundation, Barcelona

Up, The Art Foundation, Athens

2013

Boooooomerang, The Art Foundation, Athens

Are You the Fire Or Just Another Flame?, Solo Mutt Gallery, Milan

Residencies
2018

Art District P, Busan

2017

Moha Art Studio, Ulsan

2016

Ceramic Creative Center of Clayarch Gimhae Museum, Gimhae

Collection

MMCA Art Bank