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"천년의 올리브나무" 2019. Mar. 15 ~ Apr. 15

"A thousand year old olive tree"

Seoul, Mammoth Cafe located in Jeongdong-gil

Trees, humans under big family called Earth

Olive tree inspires photo artist

By Jung Hae-myoung

Stepping into Mammoth Cafe located in Jeongdong-gil near Deoksu Palace, visitors are stunned by a wall filled with pictures of colorful olive trees.

It gives a mystical touch with Egyptian blue and honey yellow colors that are hard to see in ordinary photos of olive trees.

Yoll Lee, a photo artist, is the creator of these artworks. He took pictures of olive trees from October to December 2018 while he was staying at Bari, Italy, with invitation from Tracialand Italia.

Trees and portraits have been Lee's utmost focus for over 10 years. For this project, he used "light painting" technique, which is usually used in advertisement. The technique highlights the tree as if it is the main character of the stage.

Looking deliberately at the pictures on the wall, the branches and leaves of the olive trees look like they are swaying.

"The reason I took picture of olive trees was because their shape is as if they were squeezing out something that seemed like our lives," he said.

"When I saw the olive tree, the very first thing that caught my eye was its twisted body, cracks and absence of parts. That's when I became fascinated by the concept of squeezing out."

"Like wringing out washed clothes and oils, the trees have squeezed out until death for more than 1,000 years. The marks of that devotion remained untouched," he said.

He says it felt like the trees were talking to him when he was taking the shot. "But it did not feel scary, sad, heavy, light or even desperate," he says. "It felt like a breeze."

In the artist's note, he wrote his wishes to take down his burden one by one as he was taking pictures, and when he says that could be the time that he can become a tree, the moment may never be achieved as a human being.

For him, photography is his means of expressing and telling the world that "I am alive."

"Some people express through dance movements, some with paintings to speak to the world. For me it is photography," he said.

"If portraits give a powerful feeling like a strong shot, trees give joy like a cup of tea," he said in an interview with local press.

The exhibition is free to anyone who visits Mammoth Cafe where the art is on display until April 15 open everyday from 7a.m. until 9 p.m.

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