Li Set Byul painted the forest landscape composed of splendorous green-toned lines with a strong sense of matter to such an extent that it feels even sticky in the recent series of <Green Echo.> Here, the forest consists of an organic entirety closely connected among all parts, and it is as dynamic as a living thing, yet with something hidden like a secret forest. A couple standing in the center lacks a sense of presence looking like an illusion compared with the sensuous vividity of the eye-catching green forest. In this series work, most of figures are described as aspects without faces and pupils. As a result, they all seem to have lost the sense of physical existence as souls stepping on the ground of the forest. The helplessness of these figures in contrast to wild vitality of the forest ready to devour them makes the forest of Li Set Byul feel like an ominous place full of menacing danger.
To interpret what this landscape and figures imply, it is necessary to understand how the artist has been developing her works so far. Since she invited flowers as a symbol of camouflage art in her first solo exhibition 《Camouflage》 in 2001, she has been using natural objects like flowers as metonymy of fake beauty like hallucination enrapturing and benumbing humans. In her solo exhibition 《Spring has gone》 of 2006, she showed smiling figures on top of the printed roses of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) symbolizing the environment formed by the state power, in other words, the petit bourgeois-like life living as a part of a system which Li Set Byul considers an artificial ecosystem. Based on the psychoanalytic structure in which she is interested, in the exhibition 《The Real》 of 2009, she visualized the interrelation between something exposed to the surface and something subconscious as well as between the reality and the unconsciousness which the reality intends to remove. In the mentioned works, the figure symbolizing herself appears in various forms of characters like protagonists playing different roles in heterogeneous stages, constituting a sort of a community sharing a common destiny. Through this, Li Set Byul drew an iconography of a complicated relation network between the ego of the symbolic tamed to the real world and the real ego. She also realized anxiety, tension, violence, sacrifice and pull-push dynamics occurring in the network as a pictorial narrative in the single plane.
Since 2013 with her solo exhibition 《Green Catastrophe》 green became a color symbolizing the social environment surrounding us in her work. In the green background, there are intermittent wormhole-like holes looking like a melting wall while distorting the real figures. This reminds us of a floating membrane between the world of coded symbols and the real world as expressed in the film 『The Matrix』 and also resembles a pathway where an atypical substance outside the membrane flows out. By creating a tense mood of which the melting materials from this unknown holes seem to encroach on the systematized world, Li Set Byul proposed the possibility of counterattack of latent things without being incorporated into the society. This possibility is transmitted with more clarity through the series of <Green Eco> by the weakened narrative by the placement of symbols and the more constructive role of the image of holes in the green forest in the work.
The forest referring to an artificial ecosystem made by the society, soulless humanity adapting to it in an uncritical manner, and the gaze from an unknown world with abrupt intervention as if it was ready to melt the forest world… The dynamics among these three elements in her recent work reaches more than the mere iconographic function delivering symbolic meaning, and achieves a series of beauty of form through the texture of painting itself made by sensuous brush strokes. The dynamics of relationship between the external world and the internal world, and between the exposed things and latent things is realized as a game among elements of painting at the same time. This seems to be a desirable evolution. It is probably because the objectives of painting of Li Set Byul do not lie only in visualizing the psychoanalytic structure, which already transformed into a discourse. If psychoanalysis was a trial of transforming something impossible to clarify into science, when liberty of images, which can even break the frame of scientification, can be materialized by brush strokes, the plane of painting will become a stage of possibilities allowing the real world hidden behind the membrane to flow out. Li Set Byul states, “Based on this artistic delusion occurred in the weak ring, the closed reality is open towards uncertainty.” Her painting is considered an eventual place for true delusion, coming from absolute gaze capable of saving the real existence.