It's a dog's life for «bull terrier» artist

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BEIJING. KAZINFORM - Korean artist Lee Seung-koo sees himself as a bull terrier.

He feels he can relate to the breed, which isn't considered adorable yet is clever, brave and loyal. The artist has been infatuated with the species since he first encountered the dogs during a nighttime stroll along the Seine River, Xinhua reports. "Homeless people were gambling over dogfights under a bridge," the 43-year-old recalls. "I was impressed by the dogs' two faces-affectionate family pet and fierce fighter." This inspired him to make the creature his installations' subject. He portrayed the canines with human teeth and facial expressions. The Beijing-based artist gave these creatures his childhood nickname Ddinggu, which is a wordplay off his given name. Dozens of ddinggu are displayed at Lee's ongoing solo exhibition at Parkview Green Art gallery. Each appears above Chinese captions written in chalk. The caption beneath a dog lying on its back reads: "Honey, I'm (not) drunk!" One for a puppy standing on an adult's back reads: "Dad, where are we going"-a reference to the eponymous Chinese reality TV show. Lee explains the ddinggu represent his experiences "roaming" through South Korea, Germany and China. After graduating with a degree in sculpting from Seoul's Chung-Ang University, he continued studying art in Germany, starting in 2003. There, he met his wife. The couple moved to her native Beijing seven years ago. "I'm a Korean living in China. I talk to my wife mostly in German. I haven't been truly integrated into the local community in either Germany or China," he says. "And I feel disconnected with what's happening when I return to South Korea because I've been abroad for 14 years." Lee feels he lives with too many cultural and social restrictions imposed by the three countries. He wishes to live like the courageous ddinggu who seek truth and freedom as people should. Lee titled his exhibition The First Grade. The term has been on his mind since his son started primary school. "It's like Harry Potter's magical wand that whisks me back to my childhood and then points me to my son's future." The first grade is when a child enters society and is bound by adults' rules, he says. Lee never attended kindergarten. First grade was his first time in a collective. He struggled with the rules. "Schoolchildren absorb information like they breathe air-be it valuable or useless, right or wrong," he says. "I vividly recall our teachers saying China was a communist country and dangerous. When I first came to China in 2003, I found the people to be friendly, rather than 'wolves in sheep's clothing' as I'd been told. I realized I'd been brainwashed by school, news media and people around me." His fear of people losing the ability to evaluate information informs his ongoing exhibition, he says. "Can people objectively decipher the truth from data? This is the question I want to pose." The biggest installation is a giant ddinggu head built with about 300,000 Legos. While the exterior is pure white, it is perforated with windows inside which viewers discover colorful fantasy worlds rendered in the blocks. Lee says he worked 10 hours a day for 50 days straight to finish it. His wife, Zheng Xiaoying, offered help. "The Lego store's staff said it never sells wholesale," she says. Employees introduced the nonprofit People's Architecture Foundation, which sponsored the creation of customized Legos for the work. "He (Lee) is an interesting guy," Zheng says. "He likes to share his serious insights about the world in a funny, joyful way." Lee speaks little Chinese. And his son, who attends a Chinese school, isn't fluent in Korean. They often communicate by playing Legos together. "This is my seventh year in China, so I'm also a first grader, so to speak," Lee says. "I hope to set aside my preconceptions and seize life's essence as fearlessly as a child."

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