Anthill by South Korean Artist Jung A Lee is her first solo-exhibition in Germany. In her new series of canvases, Lee focuses on two central ideas: Firstly the idea of the human mind as a multi-facetted structure, that like an anthill, only reveals a small part of itself to the outside world, but can hold unexpected depths. Secondly visualising the relationship between “the inner and the outer world” how Lee describes it and the anthill as a metaphor for an altruistic society that functions according to Derrida’s idea of absolute hospitality.
Her exploration of the human mind was inspired by her personal experiences during the pandemic, where she reconnected with her heritage, culture, and Buddhist philosophy of life. She reflected on difficult current topics such as government control and war, along with more personal themes such as the fear of death, hatred, the self, and her position as a foreigner living in Berlin. By facing these concepts, she was able to excavate layers of her subconscious and found a fascination with the intertwined relationship of our mind and reality.
Lee takes interest in Jacques Derrida’s theory of “absolute hospitality” and the idea of opening the door to welcome an unexpected guest in a situation that might otherwise violate one’s sense of self. She reflects on the idea that everything is related, and if one component ceases to exist, the other will too, which is a fundamental idea of Buddhism called the “dependent arising phenomena”. In the context of the anthill, she observes that this idea also applies to the fluidity of the self, which is not fixed but rather mutable in response to the surrounding environment.
Creating dreamlike landscapes, Lee references shapes and movements from plants, with inherent abstract qualities. Her visual language hints at fleeting presences of humans, animals, architecture, and landscapes that appear and disappear in a dynamic flow created through her technique and use of colour. She works with crayons and coloured pencils on canvas, which is more immediate and better suited to capturing her dream experiences, and often works on unstretched canvas, suspended like a scroll from the wall.
Jung A Lee’s Anthill exhibition is a profound exploration of the human mind and its relationship with the outer world. Through her work, she invites viewers to contemplate the fluidity of the self and the interconnectedness of all things.
Jung A Lee, born in 1995, is a South Korean artist who lives and works in Berlin. She has been studying fine art and painting at Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin since 2017 and received a scholarship from the Mart Stam Foundation in 2021.