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Le temps. Vide. L’Espace

2021. 11. 18 – 2022. 1. 10
Lee Jin Woo

Leeahn Gallery is pleased to announce Le temps. Vide. L’Espace, Lee Jin Woo’s solo exhibition that will be on view at gallery’s the Seoul location. The exhibition introduces 23 works that illustrate both aspects of the East and the West, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves into the artworks among the spatial void that Lee has created.


Untitled_127 x 167cm_2020-21_Mixed media with hanji on linen

Lee was born in Seoul in 1959, then went over to France in 1983 to major in the study of artistic materials and formative arts at Beaux-Arts de Paris and Université Paris-VIII. He actively participated in the Avant-Garde art movement that flourished in France during the 1980s, and through the process of finding himself, was able to create his own intimate identity as an artist. The fruits of his perseverance and intense labor became the abstract form of Dansaekhwa that we aspire today. Lee’s work can be described as expressing his inner ego through the Dansaekhwa of rich, various texture. He infinitely repeats the process of layering hanji and charcoal to achieve the desirable image, which is the product of his endurance.

The artist’s works that reflect his aspiration to empty himself and in return fill the mind with something most valuable also show the degree of labor of the entire process. He creates artworks of such depth by randomly placing charcoal on acrylic-covered linen, covers the surface with hanji, which he then scrapes off with a metal brush. The traditional Korean materials of hanji and charcoal mix and lump up together, adding both weight and depth to the work. He suggests that his tough hands and arms became naturally muscular as he continued such process for 30 years. One can only imagine the intensity of labor considering that Lee covers and rubs hanji on the surface at least 10 times per one work, and 20 to 30 times at times.


Untitled_164 x 132cm_2021_Mixed media with hanji on linen

Lee elaborates on why he carries on this physically demanding work method. “I dreamed of myself disappearing through the process of covering hanji and scraping it with a brush. The act of covering hanji is to not only invalidate myself but also to atone for my flaws and faults, as if covering everything with snow. I had initially hoped to get rid of all my guilt and corrupt minds by scraping them off, along with my desire to escape everything.” The scene created by charcoal and hanji is beyond unique, portraying that of the coexisting white fog and vast darkness that leads to the magnificent, grey-colored dawn. The existence of ego fades within, as the firm, abstinent form of peace permeates through. Aforementioned act of labor allows Lee to empty himself, fill his mind with another ego, and bring a sense of awe to his art.

Lee describes his artistic career at France as such: “French art scene credits artists that have their own color, rather than those that chase after trends. I am not arguing that either the East or the West is superior. In comparison to the West where the area of painting has remained stagnant ever since the 20th century, Korean artists have constantly been creating art that is not only simple and pure but also contemplative. I consider this as the forte of Korean art, which expresses the beauty of empty space and the scholarly spirit via contemporary art.” For Lee, who has spent numerous years overseas, hanji and charcoal are more than mere traditional Korean materials; they are proud mediums that enabled both Korean culture and the artist himself to be placed within a global context. Lee continued his labor-like practice in harsh conditions, and therefore became to be known as the master of hanji. There is an anecdote that Seo-Bo Park introduced Lee as an artist that will represent Korea at his White Cube Gallery opening, showing Lee’s works to the reporters. Likewise, Lee ended up holding a solo exhibition at Tokyo Gallery in 2017, following Ufan Lee and Whanki Kim.

This exhibition will allow the audience to further interact with both Lee and his achromatic works, blending in beautifully with the last moments of fall.

Youngkyo Jung : Curator

Leeahn Gallery
9, 12-gil, Jahamun-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
+82 2 730 2243

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