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Playing with irony, Lee Won-woo's dad jokes are turned into art

March 2, 2023 - 09:53 By Park Yuna

An installation view of “Wonwoo Lee: Your Beautiful Future” at PKM Gallery in Seoul (courtesy of the gallery)

When life doesn't turn out the way you expect, you might actually end up laughing about it all, having been pleasantly surprised by the outcome. Lee Won-woo is an artist who captures this sentiment in his work, playing with irony and poking fun at life with his art in a lighthearted and humorous way.

“I think I enjoy seeking out the funny aspects of things,” Lee said, gesturing as if digging into something with his index finger while talking with reporters Tuesday at the PKM Gallery where his solo exhibition, “Wonwoo Lee: Your Beautiful Future,” is being held.

When asked if his acquaintances often tell him that he has a good sense of humor -- like his work -- he jokingly answered yes, adding that his humor mostly consists of “ajeossi gags (middle-aged men’s humor),” or dad jokes.

"Fat Coke (Diet)" by Lee Won-woo (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

Among his works, there is a sphere with the words "diet" and "joke" written on it; a humorous depiction of a can of greatly expanded Diet Coke ready to burst. The artist played with the irony of thinking that Coke and diet can go hand in hand.

The "Heavy Light" series displayed on the floor is composed of stones that have bottle caps with the word “light." Another stone sways back and forth, reminiscent of a roly-poly toy, with the word “balance” written on it -- would it be able to keep its balance when you push it?

"The exhibition, called 'Your Beautiful Future,' portrays the artist’s desire to offset the anxiety of an uncertain future through laughter and unexpected jokes. Lee’s idea is to revive our daily lives with his own sense of humor, incorporating bits of irony found in life,” the gallery noted on Lee’s work.

An installation view of “Wonwoo Lee: Your Beautiful Future” at PKM Gallery in Seoul (courtesy of the gallery)

Lee’s new “Air words” series, which shows poetic texts seemingly floating in the sky that are tinged with the colors of a rainbow, sunrise or sunset. The words written on the pieces include “The sun is an orange,” “Saturday mood” and “Your beautiful future.”