Dongi Lee
Redux Atomaus

June 5th - July 3rd, 2021
12AM – 6PM
Closed on Sunday, Monday & Holiday

Sho+1 is pleased to announce an exhibition, titled “Redux Atomaus” by Dongi Lee from June 5th, 2021 to July 3rd. Lee has been acclaimed as a first generation of pop artist in Seoul, South Korea, and one of his paintings has become a permanent collection at Leeum (Samsung Museum) in Seoul. Atomaus in the title of this exhibition is an original character created by Lee that combines symbolic cartoon characters; Astro boy and Mickey Mouse between Japan and America. Atomaus made its debut in the public by a group show held in 1994. The current exhibition focuses on Lee’s most representative work, “Atomaus” series and contains brand new paintings, along with retrospective works on canvas.

Birth of Atomaus -A Fusion of Astro Boy and Mickey Mouse-

Dongi Lee mentioned in the past interview as follows: “One day the hybrid faces of Astro Boy and Mickey Mouse came to my mind. The two different kinds of symbols are joined together to make one new symbol – I thought it was a kind of conceptual art, and felt that it was a quite logical process to express such symbol in black and white.
Atomaus, when he was born, was criticized as a manga (comic strip), not a piece of art. However, considering Lee’s active careers up to the present, the past critique must be superficial. Lee’s production through trial and error and also his uninterrupted desire was brought to fruition of birth of Atomaus; a combination of the two symbolic characters – that was Astro Boy and Mickey Mouse. Although it has 27 years passed, Atomaus has still become familiar in not only South Korea but also in the world.

Astro Boy is a boy robot to have the same emotions as human beings do. In this character one can see the electronic brain that distinguishes good and evil, the searchlight eyes which shed tears, and the warm heart that throws a lifeline to the needy by sacrificing the own. Mickey Mouse who is supposed to be known as a main character of Disney but in fact he is a supporting character as well to play invisible role to cheer up other characters. However, it goes without saying that Mickey Mouse becomes a symbol of Disney.

One can realize that Lee’s desire and message when focusing on the characteristics of these two extremely famous cartoon characters and Atomaus itself.

Ears of Mickey Mouse must be always described by facing the front even if which direction he is facing to. Ears of Atomaus is also in the same way to face front by remaining the impressive form of Astro Boy’s hair. Lee’s sincere feeling to capture the voice of the world creates such form and rule that the ears always face front to listen to nothing but everything.

Atomaus looks impressive. His eyes have no emotions, and his mouse shuts not to speak words. Inside “Flower Garden” series included in this exhibition Atomaus is overlooking the flower gardens that are almost covered half of the entire space of the painting from left, right, and every angle. Seemingly Atomaus is anxious about past, present, and future.

In the bottom of Lee’s colorful and pop world there is solid viewpoint by him that he is continuously facing directly at the times he lives in. The sudden birth of Atomaus appears to be arisen as a logical consequence in the extension of Lee’s such unwavering attitude. We cannot help thinking about Lee’s conflict in order to produce Atomaus.

Atomaus to Our Heart

Atomaus is a familiar character and a hero who fascinates not only people in South Korea where the artist comes from but also in the world. The communications through internet is today’s mainstream, and people can connect easily in current technology. Under such circumstances idealistic platform is required that does not hurt anyone with the power of words by judging good and evil with a level gaze. Since we have experienced pandemic and various complicated matters in the present society, it is a great pleasure to receive a message beyond words from Atomaus by encountering him in the actual work by the artist.

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