Known for photographs of her studio-size self-portrait installations depicting moody, often beautifully nightmarish themes, Korean artist JeeYoung Lee adds a cheery lollipop house to her repertoire for “Imaginarium: A Voyage of Big Ideas.” This exhibition for kids, at the Singapore Art Museum, showcases Lee's tempting Dream House, in which trees seem to flower with wrapped candies (pictured, above) and giant lollies stem from planters appearing to rest on a floor made of huge pastel graham crackers (below).
And where can we get a “crystal” chandelier of multicolored treats like the one beckoning us from inside? (Below.)
Posts featuring her past work went viral, but this early-30s millennial says she herself doesn’t really participate in the blogosphere. “I consider myself old-fashioned, and I’m not big on social media,” she says. Here’s a peek at the ways in which she designs her sweet spins.
How does your hometown influence your other works? Korea has built itself up from a pile of rubble in less than a century and change is constant. Seoul is where I was born and is my home base; it represents everything that is Korean. The city is overpopulated and competition is cutthroat—living here means being under continuous pressure and nerve-wracking tension.
Where do you find the diverse items needed to build your installations? I consider myself lucky in this aspect. Seoul is a city where you can get anything. You just need to know where to look. Materials that aren't available at an art supply store can be purchased in areas called Cheonggyecheon and Uljiro. They sell hardware, chemicals, parts, electronics, antiques, interior goods, and everything in between. Going through the stores is like going to a candy store for me. Acquiring materials has never been a problem. It’s choosing them that takes time and effort and testing—finding the perfect medium to recreate the vision I have in my head. A whole project can go down the drain if it is impossible to find the right materials.
What’s one of the first things you ever made? I remember carving a seashell from an ivory-colored laundry-soap bar, and making a figurine using paper mâché and a glass bottle. Both are still at my parents’ place. The texture of the soap bar is something I will never forget.
Which title from your oeuvre do you prize the most? Anxiety [detail above] is my favorite. I consider it my representative work. It was a new attempt for me because it combines video and photography. My dream project would be turning my artwork into a performance that combines time plus space plus movement and incorporates the five senses.
Any interests outside of art? I love being out in nature and am passionate about free-diving and snowboarding.