What happens when we die? According to the book by the English philosopher Simon Critchley, Very Little… Almost Nothing. This feeling of nothingness that lurks over the human existence inspired Korean artist Timothy Hyunsoo Lee to create artworks for his No One Dies Alone exhibition. In his previous works, the artist explored the issues of immigration and mental disorders through the acts of repetition and reconstruction of his own traumatic memories. He used abstraction to presented his internal world mapped with heritage, history and pain, but the latest series of works that will be on display at Sabrina Amrani gallery, shifts the focus from the internal to the eternal world.
No One Dies Alone solo show encompasses a variety of works drawing inspiration from the topics of death, memory and movement, portrayed through the prism of the artist's personal experiences. While dealing with the topic of mortality, Timothy Hyunsoo Lee questions its core and wonders whether death is a private or a public affair? One of the central pieces of the exhibition is the artist's death portrait presented in his Lotto Lotto (Farewell) painting. The artwork connects two main topics of the show - mortality and migration by simultaneously depicting a dead body and by carrying the title that suggests the concept of instant wealth, all too familiar to every Korean immigrant searching for the American dream. The portrait is covered in gold leaves, (a symbol related to both death and royalty for millenniums), that are shedding to reveal the heritage left by Timothy Hyunsoo Lee to future generations.
The dramatic form of advertisement as an unavoidable part of a consumerist culture is depicted in another one of his works dealing with dreams entitled Serenity. The artist transforms his individual handwriting into an advertising inscription to convey his own personal memories about his first encounter with the flickering world of neon lights that occurred upon his arrival to Times Square in New York. The neon shines a light that's blue, a color that represents the central pictorial focus of the exhibition. It is the color of water and sky and according to the artist, the color of dreams. Shades of blue dominate the artist's watercolor paintings regardless whether Timothy Hyunsoo Lee depicts his own anxiety, the movement of the sea or the soul rising to bright blue sky.
No One Dies Alone is an exhibition shaped by the artist's Korean heritage but also by the immigration and relocation experiences. The artworks deal with the human existence outside of their own consciousness, that's limited by mortality. Timothy Hyunsoo Lee tries to express and comprehend the space between life and death while highlighting irreversibility of time and the importance of memories. From the primal scenes of emptiness to depictions of sharp lines, complex forms and monochromes the exhibition explores the meaning of life from the angle of the individual that's deceased. No One Dies Alone exhibition will be on view from January 13th till February 28th, 2016 at Sabrina Amrani gallery in Madrid.
Featured image : Timothy Hyunsoo Lee - I'm so Sorry (The Crusades), 2015 ; All images courtesy of Sabrina Amrani and the artist