Submission
Gowoon Lee

TACITURN


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Gowoon Lee Taciturn 1&2
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Gowoon Lee Untitled / Breathing Death
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Gowoon Lee gift/GIFT

TACITURN
In her solo exhibition Taciturn at JVDW in Düsseldorf, Gowoon Lee shows works from different series that revolve around problems of translation between different cultures and languages. The inspiration for Gowoon Lee’s unique aesthetic is rooted in her experiences as a cultural and linguistic border crosser. Moving from Korea to New Zealand with her parents at an early age, she faced the problem of having to understand a new language and different culture. The silent observation of the other, the problem of understanding and making oneself understood, the resulting special attention to the differences in language and behavior characterize her way of making art. Where what is familiar here may seem alienating and artificial there, the boundaries become blurry, which is evident in the soft yet clear ductus of Lee’s paintings. At the same time, questions of translation between Western and Eastern culture manifest themselves here as well. The deliberate moderation and nuance expressed in the euphemisms of the Korean language, which is influenced by Confucianism, can be found again in Lee’s pictorial language. But also the painting of a CPR doll, unfamiliar to the European viewer, while it is known and familiar to everyone in New Zealand, reveals limits of understanding that make the viewer aware of the ambiguity of language and provoke questions as well as own interpretations. This motif is also found in the painting titled ‘Caspar’: the hand of a cartoon character extends a finger, but we cannot decide whether this gesture is meant to insult us, admonish us, or perhaps point to something. Finally, in the work titled ‘Terebi’, Gowoon Lee’s personal experience and the transcultural aesthetics of her visual language merge. ‘Terabi’ is a Korean word no longer in use for tube television. Hereby Lee alludes to the importance that television had for her as a medium of translation, but also refers to the change in meaning of linguistic signs, which sometimes turns us into wordless observers even in our own language.

Louis Kittelmann