Lee Sang Hyun

Lee Sang Hyun, an internationally renowned South Korean artist, is considered one of the country’s most important of his generation. His digitally complied works present a dichotomy of reality and fiction blending historical images of Korea with the vivid pop culture of contemporary life. The compositions offer an alternative reality as it juxtaposes past and present to illustrate the rapid change in South Korean society over the last hundred and fifty years.

Sang Hyun draws influence and inspiration from Joseon culture in his works, and often includes references to scholars and areas associated with the era. The Korean Kingdom of Joseon, founded by Yi Seonggye, lasted for nearly five centuries spanning from July 1392 to October 1897. In 1897, it was officially renamed as the Korean Empire. The Joseon period left behind a substantial legacy, shaping much of Modern Korean culture, etiquette, norms, and societal attitudes towards current issues. Similarly, the modern Korean language and its dialects derive from Joseon culture and tradition.

Sang Hyun’s inclusion of the blossoms in his works draws reference to this false utopia, appropriating the flowers to illustrate the false culture he sees growing in his country and replacing it with the rich Joseon culture of the past.

Sang Hyun’s projects manifest in ways that could be interpreted as self-mockery.

Lee Sang Hyun

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