Dongi Lee(1967- )
Dongi Lee’s mural Atomaus was originally created as a site-specific installation for ‘Parking Lot Project I: Animation exhibition,’ which was held in the museum’s parking lot on the second basement from February 13 to April 11, 1999. After the exhibition, the work was left unprotected and required professional conservation and restoration. The museum worked with the artist to restore the pieces from April to October 2022 and subsequently added it to its collection. The mural is a rare example of Lee’s oeuvre, depicting the artist’s character Automaus multiplying and spreading throughout the space. Atomaus was first presented on a light box in Ssack (May 19-August 20, 1995), an exhibition held at the former site of the Art Sonje Center prior to its opening. Although Lee continued to work with the Atomaus character, his fusion of cartoons and fine art did not receive much attention from the Korean art scene in the 1990s, which was still distancing itself from popular culture. However, Lee persisted in his artistic endeavors, utilizing the cartoon format to capture the contemporary desire for childlike innocence amidst the complexities of adult life. Lee’s persistent efforts eventually garnered renewed attention in the 2000s. Lee’s Atomaus character is unique in that it goes beyond being a mere imitation of Atom and Mickey Mouse. Rather, it functions as a dispositif that deconstructs, transforms, and restructures the images of these popular characters, interweaving cartoons with other art genres and highlighting Korean pop culture. Many of Lee’s Atomaus works reveal the conscious and unconscious psychology of contemporary individuals through the depiction of various facial expressions and body gestures, serving as a poignant commentary on the challenges faced by individuals striving for balance in today’s society. As a result, these works have been recognized for their critical portrayal of human conditions.
Dongi Lee(1967- )
Dongi Lee is a painter who offers a critical reinterpretation of diverse image information from popular culture, which enables him to expose the sentiment and culture of his time. His focus on Northeast Asian pop culture images that emerged in the late 1980s has been influenced by American artists of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol. In the 1990s, Lee actively created works in collaboration with Korean and Japanese artists who shared his interest in pop culture, including Takashi Murakami, Yoshimoto Nara, and Makoto Aida. In 1993, Lee created the character “Atomaus,” a hybrid of the Japanese anime character “Atom” and the American Disney character “Mickey Mouse.” Atomaus serves as both a persona of the artist, who grew up under the influence of Japanese and American pop culture, and of Korea, a country shaped by cultural and political dynamics between Japan and the United States. Lee has participated in major group exhibitions, such as The Chronicle of Lost Time (2021, Seoul National University Museum of Art), Cracks in the Concrete (2017, National Museum of Contemporary Art – Gwacheon), and X: Korean Art in the Nineties (2016, Seoul Museum of Art).