Hairstylist’s funeral display turns heads at Living Design Fair
By Noh Hyun-gi
At the buzzing Seoul Living Design Fair with more than 100 booths for designers, artists, and furniture makers, a funeral is taking place.
“Last Beauty” is a mock funeral for its creator, Lee Sang-ill — hairdresser, florist, and artist- that showcases four pencil drawings and multiple installation pieces.
The chief stylist of the salon Park View by Hair News in Shinsa-dong, Seoul, has but one wish: As he has dedicated all his life to making others beautiful, he wants his hypothetical funeral to be beautiful.
Blinding sheets of white chrysanthemums made with tissue paper drape the ceiling of the corner booth at the annual fair. “Widow” and “Chief Mourners,” delicate pencil drawings on scrolls of thick paper, sit in well-lit shrines across from each other in front of an installation of Lee’s coffin.
Behind the casket, raised by a branch-like sculpture, is a ceremonial table where the artist has put numerous bottles of his favorite champagne and handwritten letters for his family and friends. Facing the table is a wall-sized pencil drawing depicting 30 female figures in dresses marching with white flags.
This is a unique self-celebration of a self-made man and there is no doubt the veteran stylist, born in 1957, has particular talent and discerning tastes.
“Widow,” a 130 by 200 centimeter drawing of Lee’s wife, shows an elderly woman with an enlarged body. The distorted proportion creates a sense of queenship. The tiny head is covered by a veil, concealing her expression. Folds of her mourning attire and wrinkles on her hands come to life with the artist’s miniscule marks. By her side is a Hermes bag which represents Lee’s wish that his wife, a fellow hair stylist, retires after his death and leads a luxurious life, according to Jung Gi-young, the exhibitioncurator.
“Chief Mourners,” a drawing of Lee’s daughter and son, follows the same theme. They firmly hold smartphones, and the son even wears the right bud of his earphones with the other one dangling on his chest. Standing side by side, the enlarged bodies make them look like models of the late Andre Kim — the Korean designer who often showcased puffed up and bulky yet airy gowns in his collections.
Seoul Living Design Fair 2012 is at the Coex Convention Hall A in Samsong-dong, southern Seoul and runs through Sunday (last admission 6 p.m.). Tickets cost 10,000 won.