top of page

Being, Creation, and Blue 


By Cho Jin-keun,

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea Seoul Exhibition Team 1 Chief

The Sprouting Cosmos by Lee Jung-eun


After studying painting at the Graduate School of Hongik University in Seoul and murals at the Graduate School of Tokyo University of the Arts in Japan, Lee Jung-eun has concentrated more on introspection of the universe and the world of her art rather than holding exhibitions. Finally being held after a long hiatus, her exhibition at the Art Factory features the sprouting and unseen cosmos portrayed with the harmony of extrasensory colors and rich hues using silica, sand, and lime. 





Lee often uses blue to represent the root of being and the genesis of the world. Blue has long been considered a sacred and divine color. Even Michelangelo adopted blue to express the holiness of God who created Adam and Eve in the scenes of the Creation and the Last Judgment on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It is also a mysterious color of nature as both the clear, high sky and the transparent, deep sea are blue. She describes her work as “emotion pertaining to the vast universe, the sea, the unknown, a breathing incomprehensible chaos, an empty, cold, far away, momentary, cool-headed, cerebral moon, fingerprints, figures, and so on.”1) Her work attitude and method are contemplative and philosophical. Before embarking on her work she readies herself to become one with an abyss in the universe, emptying her mind and body. It is only then that she creates “vague, beautiful colors and images” without reservation on a huge canvas on the floor. To Lee who is interested in the existing method of all things in the universe, blue is the color that represents existence and creation. Each image is formed when traces of dripping, splitting, and scraping become hardened. Her images seem to be a representation of her contemplation on the origin of the universe before form came into being. 





Lee considers the nature of being is not unchanging but hidden under a process of change. The Greek philosopher Plato stated that ever-changing and extinguishing aspects of the world are nothing but shadows deceiving the absolute truth of Idea. However, Lee thinks change is the original form of life and the universe. As familiar images seek the signification of preexisting codified symbols, they just reproduce the extinguished traces of previous beings. Lee explores the “genesis of all things and the principle of their creation” and chases “self so, so of its own, so of itself”2) To the artist, being cannot be captured as a familiar image and it is just perceived as “vagueness” in the process of the creation of nature. 





1) Quoted from the artist’s statement of Lee Jung-eun in her exhibition (2013) catalog p.79. 

2) Quoted from the artist’s statement of Lee Jung-eun in her exhibition (2013) catalog p.79. 






Being cannot be eternal. It may be extinguished at anytime and may come into being anywhere. Lee describes the creation of being as the sprouting cosmos. The colors and forms she creates are landscapes of non-landscapes. She creates the invisible visibility of the unseen universe we have never seen, exploring the visible invisibility of all things in the world that is the elemental property of all visible things. Lee’s eye is located at a place as high as the Hubble Space Telescope and slips into the universe, zooming out from the post where the reason and sensibility exploring the source of the universe intersect. The directivity of her mind and eye is left on the canvas in harmony with form and color. Her images are not the traces of a previous existence but one to be created and sprouted in the future.



Red sprouting from blue


Existence is a process of creation. As the principle of creation in the universe or creation after extinction is the nature of being, blue, the genesis of the universe evolves into red. Blue feels like a place far away whereas red feels like a place near at hand. Red leads us to the flame of magma deep underground. She concentrated on works of blue until 2012 but displays new colors and forms in red at this exhibition. I wonder what new color will evolve and what form it will hold. 

bottom of page