“All that exists is impermanence, nothing lasts. Therefore nothing can be grasped or held onto.”
This concept of nothingness / impermanence is derived from my unique experience during the 49 Jae, a Buddhist ritual performed after my father’s passing. This is a ritual which is performed on the 49th day after the death of a person.
When a person dies, the ashes are raised every seven days to pray for blessings, and this is repeated seven times to end with 49 days.
I was encouraged by the leading monk to write and pray for my father with one of the most powerful, profound and eloquent sutras, the ‘Diamond Sutra’, in Buddhist texts. My work reflects and recreates from my experiences during this difficult period. I searched for the positive, starting with sadness and ending with an understanding concerning eternal life and impermanence.
I have written a single chapter from this sutra on each of my paintings. On each of these I have covered the sutra writings with an opaque medium emphasizing the concept of impermanence, all conditioned things have the nature of changing therefore nothing exists by itself but are mutually dependent upon one another, this is what Buddhism refers to in terms of nothingness.
The Buddha’s final words express this, impermanence is inescapable, everything vanishes therefore there is nothing more important than continuing the path with diligence.
Artist Statement, 2021
Hyun-Hee Lee has a Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours) from the National Art School. She was awarded the Bird Holcomb Foundation Honours Fine Art Scholarship in 2010. In 2012, Hyun-Hee was the winner of the John Coburn Emerging Artist Award, under the auspices of the Blake Prize. In 2015 she also completed a Master of Fine Arts (Research) from the University of New South Wales Art and Design.
In 2013 she was awarded the Onslow/Storrier La cite International des Arts Paris Residency from the National Art School. In the same year she was also awarded a COFA travelling Grant from UNSW. In 2012 Hyun-Hee completed a Red Gate Residency in Beijing, China.
She has been a finalist in numerous National Art Awards and Prizes and she has had many solo and selected group exhibitions. She is represented by Artereal Gallery in Sydney.
Hyun-Hee Lee is a Korean-Australian artist whose work traverses the traditional Korean and Western art practices. Through her art she aims to establish a spiritual and cultural connection with her country of birth. She achieves this by recreating and re-contextualizing traditional religious rituals, cultural practices and customs in a contemporary context.
Her art blurs the conventional distinction between writing, painting and installation but through a combination of line, scale and color she eloquently expresses the emotions revealed in the pages of her diaries and journals which she uses as her source material.