Suzanne Lovell Inc

Color & Palette

Seulgi Lee’s Nubis

February 03, 2019

Traditional Nubi techniques dictate for long lines of stitches which are separated by tiny increments (sometimes even as little as half a centimeter). Look closely and you can see the graphics coming together to form a praying mantis. In 2017, Lee turned three of the designs into limited-edition cashmere quilts for Hermes.

Image courtesy of: Architectural Digest

Korean artist, Seulgi Lee is on a mission to speak the “made-up” word of DAMASESE throughout the world in hopes that we stop to recognize what we’ve forgotten through modernization.

This desire started after she received a Nubi from a friend; instantly, Lee was in love and tried to track down similar items. She felt an instant connection to the blanket’s rich colors and parallel lines of thread which resemble South Korea’s rice fields. However, she continuously turned up empty-handed and she eventually decided to make her own. Working with artisans from Tongyeong, South Korea, she produced a collection of colorful cashmere Nubis for Hermes.

“Fan the Burning House = Make the Situation Worse”, 2018.

Image courtesy of: It’s Nice That

After mastering the Nubi blankets, Lee began work on a collection of silk canvases which are hand sewn with color-blocked geometric forms. The forms are all inspired by Korean proverbs that speak to universal human experiences.

It is fascinating how historic Korean proverbs are translated into geometric textile patterns. Furthermore, the artwork ties into Lee’s interest in the origins of color within South Korean culture.

Lee has been working with Tongyeong artisans since 2014. This artwork is a series of blankets titled, “U”. The works are “are visual interpretations of traditional Korean proverbs”. In the above silk, to “show a duck’s foot” means “to lie”, whereas the proverb, “repair the cowshed after losing with cow” implies that something is “too late”. Quite clever!

Image courtesy of: It’s Nice That

Perhaps it’s Lee’s interest in everyday objects that have allowed her to so seamlessly shift focus between what is and what isn’t considered true artwork. Lee breaks down the boundaries between the inside and the outside, the horizontal and the vertical, the linear and the non-linear, and other fixed concepts. As such, items from everyday life get new meaning and are accepted on a higher level of existence.

Seulgi Lee at Gallery Hyundai for the 2018 DAMASESE show.

Image courtesy of: It’s Nice That

There’s a Korean theory regarding color… in Asian cosmology, colors are linked with orientation. For example, blue is for East, white is for West, red is for South, and black is for North. Interestingly enough, in both France and Korea, it is believed that “sleeping with the head towards North gives good health”.

How the audience understands the artwork translates to how they are affected by a specific color. Lee says, “It is a spiritual process” the oral proverbs are given a “physical impact, which gives so much strength”.

One of our favorite piece has two definitions:

  1. A frog in the well knows nothing of the great ocean.
  2. A Foggy Well = Narrow Mind

Image courtesy of: It’s Nice That

Lee was careful to pay special attention to the lighting and the series’ order. The walls were painted a light grey in order to allow the audience to interact with each silk without distraction. Lee’s purpose through this project was to understand the relationship between oral culture, primitive gestures, and how the two tie together in order to showcase what our modern society has forgotten.