Lehmann Maupin Seoul presents Wonderland, a group exhibition curated by Tae Um. Wonderland unites works by Guimi You, Hyun Nahm, Ken Gun Min, and Mie Yim—four Korean-born artists based in the United States or Korea.

The show takes its title from Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice in Wonderland, which describes a fantastic “wonderland” of anthropomorphic creatures. Inspired by the tale, Wonderland synthesizes work by artists of diverse ages, genders, and regions who, in their distinctive ways, depict imagined contemporary landscapes In doing so, the artists explore universal questions about what an ideal world might look like.

In Wonderland, painting and sculpture unfold in brilliant compositions, gesturing towards a futuristic utopia saturated with vivid color. The works on view are deeply invested in nostalgic reminiscence, drawing viewers into contact with intangible memory—something forgotten and vanished that one long to remember. Transcending temporal and spatial boundaries, Wonderland evokes the mysterious and familiar at once.

Guimi You portrays recollections of early memories and daily life. While she resided in both the eastern and western United States after leaving Korea and completing her studies in London, the artist experienced feelings of isolation and disconnectedness as an immigrant, woman, and mother of a child. She turned to painting to overcome this challenging moment.

Inspired by surrealist painters and her son’s picture books, You’s compositions employ delicate colors and soft hazy tones, eliciting dreamy, transportive, and otherworldly qualities. Her figures transport viewers to mysterious places, exuding a sense of anonymity and imbuing the spaces depicted with both personal and universal significance.

Alongside paintings, Hyun Nahm’s sculpture offers sharp insight into envisioned space in modern society. The artist considers miniescape, an Eastern concept that links an object to the essence of the landscape. To explore miniascape in the context of the contemporary world, Hyun uses industrial materials including polystyrene, epoxy, fiberglass, and cement.

Hyun employs a negative casting process, or what he refers to as “mining.” He drills holes into polystyrene blocks and pours his materials into the cavities or “caves.” Once the materials have dried and hardened, he melts the polystyrene and removes it, resulting in objects created by the chemical reactions of his materials—the works take amorphous form, their fractured surfaces and fluorescent colors hinting at urban ruins from an apocalyptic future.

Wonderland also features Ken Gun Min’s sumptuous and vibrant paintings that devise fantastical idylls filled with longing, melancholy, and euphoria. The artist was born in Seoul and has lived in San Francisco, Zurich, Berlin, and Los Angeles, imbuing his work with a multicultural perspective that navigates something marginalized and obscured beneath the surface.

An immigrant, Min creates cross-cultural compositions by incorporating lesser-known histories with illustrations from the Bible and ancient mythologies; materially, he combines Korean pigments and Western-style oil paints and embroidery on the picture plane. Select works on view also gather the artist’s early recollections of growing up in Korea in the late 1980s. And yet, the artist remains culturally boundless, conjuring otherworldly, fantasy-like imagery that contests issues of race, gender, and sexuality.

The essence of New York-based artist Mie Yim’s work lies in constant flux—an inarticulable, perpetual movement at the boundary where figuration and abstraction collide. Layers of lavish and prolific imagery suggest anthropomorphic creatures or mutations of the organic network, buzzing with luscious color. Her often-fragmented figures recall the artist’s childhood memories and fantasies.

According to Yim, her paintings begin with emotional and spatial memory, attempting to give form to some of these recollections. Having lived a peripatetic life—migrating abruptly from Korea to Hawaii, then frequently changing residences in the US as a teenager—the artist’s diasporic experience serves as the basis for such fragmented mobility. In Wonderland, Yim presents new work she developed during the pandemic that blends figuration with abstraction, juxtaposing cute, sugar-colored creatures with an underlying sense of horror.

Across the exhibition, artworks both converge and conflict in a non-verbal collision. The works on view encompass diverse narratives of diasporic experience, gesturing towards a universal discourse beyond the region of Korea. The exhibitions’ unique dialogue also explores the boundaries between the visual languages of figuration and abstraction, experiments with new materials, and questions established artistic tradition. Together, the artists in Wonderland pursue the utopian and dystopian possibilities offered by their material and conceptual collisions.