As I walked through all the galleries in my first day of Art 110 I stared thoughtfully at all the pieces, often not being able to decipher what they were but trying to come up with something. Honestly I didn’t understand most of it although there were a few pieces that intrigued me, one being Kang Seung Lee’s Untitled collection of 12 Selfies (pictured).
What caught my attention from this collection was that these weren’t ordinary selfies, these were nude selfies portraying a pornographic feel. Another interesting feature was the fact that they were very small portraits, each painting being 3×2 inches.The size of the painting I’m guessing is because these are “selfies” taken with cellphones so the artist is portraying the actual size of a phone screen. And for once, the subject of these sexual paintings wasn’t a woman! I think this is what amazed me the most about these paintings, aside from the great artistic talent, because in a world where women are objectified and increasingly sexualized it was sort of a relief to see a man being sexualized, not to say that they aren’t already or that it’s good that they are. However, a few questions arose while I was looking at the paintings: How are these “nude selfies” art? What is the difference between these paintings and leaked nudes? What’s the difference between these paintings and people just wanting to put themselves out there without making themselves seem like they’re disgusting beings or attention-seekers, what if they’re just that confident? Well I didn’t come up with an accurate answer because I don’t think there is one. I believe that when it comes to art, everyone has a different opinion and a different perspective. To me, these “selfies” are interesting but to my conservative parents, it would be appalling and it definitely wouldn’t be considered art to them but simply something sexual and something I should not be looking at. That’s the beauty of art, everyone can have their opinions and we are also able to express ourselves through it. I believe that these paintings are considered to be art because, first of all, they are paintings so in a sense they aren’t “real people” but also because that’s what Lee wanted them to be. I don’t know why this collection of selfies doesn’t have a legit title but I don’t think it needs one anyway because the “person” within the paintings is expressing himself with the different positions and angles he is in. And sometimes paintings don’t need titles to know what it is.
Lee is an incredible artist, to think that someone created this is amazing, to take a living person and immortalize them through a painting, or a collection of paintings, forever is an incredible notion. I am very excited to continue writing about artists and learning more about their creations.