Revisiting Musician Olivier Messiaen and Surrealist Artist Remedios Varo Through the Lens of the Interdisciplinary
Jaewook Lee’s solo exhibition, Treatise on Rhythm, Color, and Birdsong, takes place at Space O’NewWall from August 8, 2016 to August 25, 2016. As an alternative history, this show revisits Olivier Messiaen, one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, and Spanish-born Mexican surrealist painter Remedios Varo. Lee presents a video, two installations, and five drawings that focus on the interesting intersection between the two genius artists.
Why does Lee focus on the two artists? Besides the coincidental fact that they were both born in December 1908, they both sought artistic inspirations from other fields of knowledge such as science. Their approach fits today’s commonly accepted notion of the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary art. Contemporary art attempts to collaborate with other fields to express today’s complex world. This interdisciplinary approach expands the sphere of art more broadly. In this sense, Jaewook Lee’s recent works well represent this current of contemporary art. Lee not just produces art objects, but also writes and does scholarly research, showing how art has a leading role in knowledge production beyond mere representations of social phenomena.
Lee’s attitude is clearly seen in his video, Treatise on Rhythm, Color, and Birdsong (2016), which sheds light on the intersection between Utah’s canyons which inspired Messiaen’s music and the elements of Varo’s paintings. Lee does not position himself as a producer of art objects, but a mediator or curator who facilitates interactions among different fields by reviving the two artists from the past. Lee works as a researcher who focuses on artists of the past who have been marginalized from the canonical art history and gives them new meanings. This approach was also shown in his perviousexhibition, Object Theory (2015), which introduced “Object-Oriented Ontology” to the Korean art world. While the previous show focused more on introducing the philosophical background, this show presents various works such as drawings inspired by Messiaen’s synesthesia–the ability to hear sound from colors and a live flute performance from Lee’s video, Treatise on Rhythm, Color, and Birdsong (2016). Especially, internationally recognized philosopher Aaron Schuster will speak about “Deleuze’s interpretation on Messiaen” at O’NewWall E’juheon (Space O’NewWall Project Space) as part of the exhibition.
Goeun Song (space O'NewWall Curator)