The pigeon, as expressed in the Bible story, is the pure bird that brought back the olive branch to Noah's ark; under the pen of Spanish painter Picasso, embodies the peace messenger fighting against war. To Li-chung Lee, however, the pigeon's existence symbolizes deepest nostalgia and sense of belonging.
Racing pigeons has been a part of Taiwanese culture for a number of years, and the trading market is flourishing. Though the pigeon lofts on rooftops is a common sight for all to see, the pigeon racing culture is always low-profile and mysterious and a part of only a few people’s lives. Li-chung Lee’s solo exhibition “Longing for Your Return” at Powen Gallery starts with his memory of pigeons when he was just a child. He uses various pieces of photography, installations and large amounts of hand-painted media to show the struggle of human beings and pigeons inner feelings that are intimate, yet alienated. Through the short but difficult journey of racing pigeons, the artist projects the chaos of life, silence and death. Li-chung Lee, influenced by the inherent nature of pigeons – "returning home", the deep sense of "belonging" entrusted within this simple but intractable instinct, quietly working this topic into his work. The cold silence of the photography, yet warm painting strokes, reflects the artist's long-time emotional pursuit.
“Longing for Your Return”, is based on the important mid-40s Taiwanese song which narrates the inner battle for Taiwan women during WWII, longing for the return of their husband, who have gone off to South Sea for war, not knowing whether they are alive or dead. Just like the master who are eagerly looking forward to their pigeons returning home, Li-chung Lee creates a poetic imagery which is the basis of his creations, transforming the dominator and dominated relationship, trying to search for one’s identity and environment in spite of the manipulation of fate. Such as the piece "I Just Want to go Home," the artist portrays the weight of life on just a thin piece of paper, but with each piece swaying on their own it is seemingly vague under the vast boundless scenery, like the next second they will be gone with the wind, metaphoric to the value and severity of life.
Li focuses on the emotional details of the culture of the Taiwanese people, and with the alternation of photography, video and composite media, presents the appearance and current way of contemporary generations, as well as emphasizing issues of attribution, fate and globalization. Li-chung Lee, who was born in 1980 in Tainan, Taiwan, graduated from the Private Chinese Culture University in 2003 majoring in Printing and Communication. He has been awarded the EPSON Awards (2006), the Tainan New Art Award (2015) and the Taoyuan Creative Award (2015), and has participated in the joint exhibition and art fair. He has been engaged in fine arts editing and is currently living in Tainan.