Sometimes, our minds distort the everyday objects we see with phallic, yonic, or sexual connotations. These are intrusive thoughts, mental impulses that most of us tend to hide. But not South Korean artist Joyce Lee; instead, she revels in such thoughts, transforming them into provocative illustrations that explore sexuality and love through the lens of the human body.
有些时候，有些日常用品，或多或少会让我们联想到生殖器官或是充满性暗示的画面，但往往这些念头和画面都被我们潜藏于心。但韩国艺术家 Joyce Lee 却反其道而行，她不仅为此深深着迷，还爱用插画把脑中假想赤裸裸地画出来，以探索性与爱的话题。
An interlocked pair of women’s legs with scissors handles, a pink balloon floating into the glans of a penis-shaped cactus, and the protruding shape of a nipple ring under a nun’s habit. These are just some of the suggestive images that compose Lee’s oeuvre, most of which are displayed on her Instagram account.
“Wherever I am, I always take a good look at the objects around me,” she says. “I think about how to transform them. I want to twist and recreate them in a sexual or funny way. This instant transformation of objects can happen only in our imagination, and turning these private images into something visual is what we artists do.”
两把交缠的剪刀，象征着两双玉腿；吹鼓的粉色气球，飘到阴茎形状的仙人掌里；一本正经的修女服下，两枚乳头环若隐若现……Joyce Lee 在 Instagram 帐户上发布了一系列充满性暗示的作品。
Lee uses watercolor for the base of her drawings and colored pencil for the contours and details. She works on yellow-tinted kraft paper because it enhances skin tones and adds a vintage feel. For the finishing touches, she might add a few digital alterations before posting them online, but most of her work is done entirely by hand.
Social media plays a crucial part in Lee’s practices, not just in showcasing her art, but also in the formulation of her subject matter. Since the beginning, the popularity of her work with the online audience encouraged her to test how far she could take her risque art. As she interacted with her followers, Lee began realizing the importance of matters such as gender empowerment and feminism, themes they identified in her works even before her. “I didn’t think about the subject too much at first; but, after hearing people talking about it, I also began to see it,” she says. “My audience showed me something I hadn’t seen in my own work. It’s amazing.”
社交媒体在 Joyce 的创作中地位颇重。她不仅可以在那里展示自己的作品，而且可以获得构思主题的灵感。从一开始，她的作品就获得了许多网上观众的认可，这也鼓励了她不断突破在创作上的大胆程度。通过和粉丝的交流，Joyce 开始意识到性别赋权和女性主义这些话题的意义，甚至可以说，观众比她更早意识到自己的作品中所体现的这些内涵。“我一开始并没有对作品的主题想太多，但是当我了解到许多人关于这些问题的讨论后，我也开始认真思考这些话题。可以说，是我的观众让我从自己的作品中有了新的发现，真是太棒了！”她如是说。
Lee has more fans abroad than in her own country. She admits that, through her hashtag usage, she looks to reach Western audiences over South Korean audiences as she’s concerned about the adverse reactions her erotic art may provoke at home. “Even though Seoul is a very modern city and young people here are progressive in many ways, following an erotic art account could still be seen as an act of rebellion,” she explains.
Despite the conservative values of South Korea, she freely explores themes of gender identity, equality, and empowerment through visual metaphors that call to mind Magrittean surrealism. Sometimes her works are an ode to female autonomy, emphasizing sexuality as if urging women to take the matter in their own hands—quite literally. “I always see beautiful girls in the works of many South Korean artists, but they look so sad and shy,” she says. “One thing is clear: women inside my art are far from shy. They don’t hesitate to express their feelings with their body.”
But there’s a more tender aspect to Lee’s illustrations. In a piece created after the Covid-19 outbreak, for instance, she alludes to the struggles of female self-care during the quarantine, Lee depicts a woman with her hands over her groin, attempting to cut her pubes, which are entangled by a spider’s web. As in many other pieces, Lee shows a compassionate consideration to women’s emotions, desires, and frustrations.
Her care is also particularly apparent when she depicts hands. Lee finds that the human hand has the most fascinating shape of all the human organs. She draws them with remarkable attention to details such as lines, wrinkles, and even veins seen through the skin. Of course, hands also have a sexual function.
然而 Joyce 的插图作品中也有温柔的一面。譬如新冠疫情爆发后，她一副作品里画下了，一名女子把手挡在下体上面，试图剪掉蛛网般缠绕的阴毛的样子，以表达在疫情隔离期间，女性在自我保护方面的一些挣扎。和她其他许多作品一样，这幅画体现了她对女性的情感、欲望和挫折的同情和关怀。
Sex in art is not new. From Mesoamerica to Japan, phallic art was a fascination in the ancient world, seen as a symbol of fertility and good luck. But it was in the late 20th century when the sexual revolution beaconed sex as something to be celebrated in art in even more transgressive, playful, and humane ways. Today, Lee’s work follows the same indispensable ethos: one side of it is empathetic and warm, while the other is a visceral punch in the face of the so-called moral society. “I want people to get excited, blush, and imagine something more by seeing my art,” she notes. “But I also want them to know that there is someone who dares to show something that most of them are thinking but would never express.”
艺术描绘性爱并不是什么新鲜事。从中美洲到日本，情色艺术在古代很流行，也被视是生育和幸运的象征。直到 20 世纪后期的性解放运动后，艺术作品中的性才变得更加大胆、有趣和人性化。而现在 Joyce 的作品承袭同样的精神：一方面是感同身受与温暖关怀；而另一方面又是对所谓社会道德的猛烈抨击。她说：“我希望人们在看到我的作品时，能感到兴奋、脸红，甚至浮想联翩。但我也希望他们能意识到，有人敢于将他们大多数人都想过但不敢说出来的想法呈现出来。”