< Hide & Seek >
Alison + Olivia into the garden.
2022. 5.19-6.30

ATELIER AKI presents the first solo exhibition with San Francisco-based artist Ivory Yeunmi Lee: Hide & Seek <  Alison + Olivia into the garden  > from May 19 to June 30. The exhibition is especially significant as it is the first solo exhibition of Lee that is presented for the first time in 10 years in Korea since 2012. The artist will debut <  A Rainy Garden  > and <  The Red Sky  >, a new chapter of <  The Garden  > series that commenced in 2005. This solo exhibition will showcase 20 new paintings that feature Ivory Yeunmi Lee’s expanded worldview of ‘The Garden’, which she continuously has explored throughout her artistic journey.

Ivory Yeunmi Lee creates her own paradise similar to the Garden of Eden, away from decaying nature to construct a unique fantasy with whimsical landscapes that are inhabited by anthropomorphized plants and creatures. Lee has gained wide popularity from overseas collectors and has established her presence in the global market through publishing her art on the world’s largest NFT platforms, ‘Opensea’ and ‘Foundation’. Following her solo exhibition with ATELIER AKI, Ivory Yeunmi lee will present her work at New York Times Square in collaboration with New York-based artist Vismehin in June. In addition, Lee will also hold exhibitions at the Space776 Gallery in New York and K11 MUSEA in Hong Kong.

The exhibition title “Hide & Seek <  Alison + Olivia into the garden  >” stems from ‘the garden’, a major theme that exists throughout Lee’s works. Lee’s ‘garden’ is both a visualization of ‘Querencia’, an imaginary world the artist created as a child, and an interpretation of the symbolic Garden of Eden. ‘The Garden’, wherein elaborate but dramatically shaped trees and anthropomorphized plants and creatures exist, manifests a whimsical atmosphere blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. Furthermore, by capturing a complete Garden of Eden that existed before the corruption of human beings, the artist provides an opportunity for imagination and reflection upon the representation of an ideal, innocent world.
The key expression that appears without omission in the artist’s works is ‘unfamiliarity’. While the plants encompass an animalistic nature, not only expressing elements of pain and death but a dynamic presence with legs stretching across the canvas, the humans and animals observe the world anchored on trees like fruits and flowers, presenting a new, unfamiliar perspective experience. Moreover, the garden’s appearance that at once may seem merciless and cruel is neutralized by the pastel-toned colors, which bring peace and beauty in an unexpected way. As such, the artist presents a fantastical world that catches the eye of the audience with its unfamiliar scenery.

Following <  The Perfect Garden  > in 2005, <  The Closed Garden  > in 2008 and <  The Garden Inferno  > in 2009, Lee opens a new chapter of the series: <  A Rainy Garden  > and <  The Red Sky  >. With the introduction of the new characters, ‘Alison’ and ‘Olivia’, the new works highlight the expanding horizon of the artist’s world. The journey of the two characters, who first appeared in the rain in the burning garden, enter a new stage of a relationship, creating a multi-layered landscape that overwhelms the audience. The relational dynamic reflects the artist’s continuous exploration into storytelling narrative. The motifs in Lee’s work stem from both personal experiences and imagination. The intertwined emotions of greed, boundaries, and unfamiliarity in Ivory Yeunmi Lee’s work ultimately projects the artist’s own life. “The accumulated memories archived in my warehouse of memories are naturally expressed through my work,” says Lee.