Lee SangSoo: Faux Naïf Fantasies

Written by Rei Yukon | Posted 28 May 2019

An Armadillo with Flowers on its Back
Lee Sangsoo is a dreamer- an advocate for an imaginative, regressive style of artwork known as “Faux Naif”. One may at first question the motive behind art that is purposefully “ugly” and “unskilled” in technique, but closer examination reveals this artist’s intent is to give a nuanced insight into the themes of innocence and the unknowing bliss of childhood; conjuring the creative thoughts of our youth that we might have long forgotten.

4 Legs 1 Bird
Largely inspired by a rediscovery of his childhood drawings and paintings, Lee guides his style towards the free-spirited notion of ‘not-knowing” that children possess, as exhibited through the ridiculousness and often times laughable depictions of reality they make in their artwork, be it scribbles, sketches, or paintings. 

A Giraffe
His creations are seemingly filtered through the lens of a child, playfully warped into creatures that just vaguely resemble what they are meant to represent, in a manner that is quirky and unique. 

A Giraffe with a Tree on its Back
In Lee’s world and creative projection, trees grow on the back of giraffes, cows are elongated, with both udders and horns while his birds are colourful and rotound, stacking on top of each other in a adorable pile. The circumstances of his scenes are unrealistic and absurd, but are remarkable in that very aspect, as they create an evocative aura of synergy and childish magnetism that draws an audience in to question and perhaps even reminisce of their own childhood creativity.

Three Birds
The imagery is simple, and innocent in construction, but overwhelming in terms of concepts and thought processes. To produce an idea so detached from the ‘real world’ is a feat for adults, who have grown both knowledgeable and unavoidably cynical in the time they’ve had to mature. But for a child, so disconnected to what we call “reality”,  Images of profound, unreal and fascinating things  are simply constructed without much thought or anxiety, from mind, to hand to paper, without the wool of societal expectations pulled over their eyes.

My Face (left) &  Portrait of My Father (right)
In a way, Lee’s work is also provides tongue-in-cheek commentary about the circumstances of our modern society through its arguably subversive concept and presentation, questioning what we define as true ‘fine art” as distinguished from the uncalculated, unhinged creativity of a child.

A Colourful Cactus