Joyce Lee found her talent for drawing the erotic largely by accident. ‘One day I whimsically tried combining a human hand and foot with a woman’s breast and a man’s genitalia,’ she explains, ‘and the visual effect of the strange and bizarre creature was surprisingly intense. The number of followers on my social media increased rapidly. I tried adding more of a story and concept to my artworks, and they have been more and more positively received.’ At first she was hesitant to share her raunchier work on her social media accounts. ‘I only use English hashtags when I post my art on Instagram,’ she says. ‘Maybe I was afraid of the reaction in my own community about my art, even though Seoul is a very modern and sophisticated city.’
Lee’s wariness is understandable – the South Korean government has censorship control over various forms of media, including the internet, and pornography is banned and penalised. But worldwide social media is less controlled, allowing her to find her own freedom. ‘Looking at my artworks, people used to ask me where I’m from,’ Joyce says. ‘If I answer Korea they are always surprised. People think my artworks are too provocative for an Asian female artist.’
But her following continued to grow, and Playboy contacted her for a commission. While the sexual nature of her work certainly fits the Playboy bill, in many ways Joyce’s work continues in the tradition of the surrealism art movement. ‘I would say my biggest influences are Salvador Dali and René Magritte,’ she says. ‘Their paintings are very creative and imaginative, yet their work is grounded deeply in classical art techniques.’
This selection of works from a prolific and talented artist starts with her ‘everyday erotic’ studies of objects seen in a humorously alternative way, and continues with paintings from her more complex repertoire, all available as prints from her website.