'IN-YEON 인연' - A solo exhibiton of new works by Hyun-Hee Lee
Address: 747 Darling Street, Rozelle, NSW, 2039
Date: 5 June 2019
Time: 6pm - 8pm
IN-YEON 인연 is a chronicle of Hyun-Hee Lee’s powerful and mixed emotional responses around her parents’ visit from Korea to Sydney for four weeks in September 2018 after a decade’s absence. An overwhelming emptiness for the artist followed their leaving.
Writing – whether letters, thoughts, often prayers, and a meditative diary entry made every day, have always been the sources and tools that informed the calligraphic style and marks of her paintings. The poesy of her paintings carries the expression of her emotions as their essence and traces the threads and intricate mesh of the artist’s spiritual and lived lives.
When her parents were in Sydney Hyun-Hee Lee wrote daily in her diary of their doings, and of her feelings and responses. After they had left, looking back through that diary allowed her to relive, honour and emotionally expand their experiences and time together.
Made in the aftermath of her parents’ departure, Emotional Journey is a series of thirty paintings, one for each of their thirty days together in which she mulls over, analyses, keeps alive and re-lives the joys, anxieties and her regrets.
In her studio, after reading her diary entry for a particular day, the artist copies the text in pencil onto a primed canvas. She then paints over that surface with a colour and gesture expressive of the emotion implicit in the text; leaving her past memories imbedded forever in the under-painting.
More marks, in acrylic, oil or wax, large or small, coloured dark or light, are added relative to the artist’s sensations of being remorseful, “so very happy” - “sometimes more tense, others less“. She is careful to express both her recalled feelings and her immediate responses at the reliving as she paints. Pencil and pastel are scribbled and scratched into wet and onto dry. Erasures, mistakes, re-thinking, going over, re-writing, reflection and correction are all there as evidence of the artist’s angst or elation etched into the paintings’ layers.
A thousand emotions grew from a diary entry on her parents’ departure eve. It reflects her mix of feelings in anticipation of the next day. Gratitude and Tolerance convey the intensity of the time after they left. Both panels express the sorrow confided within her diary of missing her parents and of being remorseful that she should have, could have, “done better”.
Sincerely, is a paean made in homage, and respect for her parents. Warm red and pink hues pervade the painting. They are the colours of carnations that are linked with life and celebration in Korean culture and are the floral emblem for Parents’ Day, celebrated in Korea in May. A pink carnation is symbolic of a mother’s undying love, light red emblematic of admiration, dark red of love and affection.
Reflection, is a ‘keep-sake’, a letter intentionally written by the artist to be un-sent, to allow her to keep its sentiments close and retained in her heart. Similarly, Forgotten letter is a heartfelt, profoundly emotional outpouring painted and drawn into two paper panels over several campaigns. The original words, apart from “Dear” are no longer legible for either a Korean or non-Korean speaker but the inherent flood of emotion and angst is raw and laid bare inscribed in muted scale onto each sheet in skeletal thin scratchings, strike-throughs, drips, blurs and blotches. In places text is drawn tight and tiny, elsewhere as grander optimistic flourishes. The inscribed marks map and mirror the private yet universal progress, poignancy and emotive passage of family separation and connection.