Nov 7, 2015

With Nature, With Sculpture

Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation

The Neighborhood Artists - 14.Jaehyo Lee

An Atelier Where Everyone is Happy
Whenever I visit artists’ studio, a flood of thoughts occur to me. It is kind of occupational disease, or conditioned response by learning. The thoughts depend on whom I meet and where the studio is but for example, beautiful scenery around the studio by season and time, famous restaurants on the way, appearance or decorations of the studio, and people in the studio, a vintage audio system, a home-made stove, unique coffee that I can taste only in the studio, a plump dog that defends the studio with an artist and so on. It can be kind of romantic yearnings or comfort mechanism for fatigue and carsickness on the way to the studio. The farther and more remote the studio is, the more yearnings I have. Of course, artists and their works are basics. 

But when I drive and when studios are located in the unique area which is different from the general residential areas, my yearnings get deeper. One of them is the studio of artist Jaehyo Lee. Whenever I visit him, I feel that it changes every day. The scenery changes by season and roads change as well.

I think it is an evidence to prove that his studio is very far from artificiality. Trains are pulling in quickly and a road network has been expanding and improving as they are conscious of the studio. I follow the direction of my navigator, but it is often challenging.

Artist Jaehyo Lee’s studio is located far from the center of Yangpyeong where most artists like to live and a lot of so-called famous artists live. It is Jipyeong. It is said that the name of Yangpyeong is a combination of Yanggeun and Jipyeong. I do not know it is because recently makgeolli with the name of Jipyeong has been produced or because the studio of artist Lee is located, but the name sounds familiar to me.

When we enter a village, we can see two buildings that is regarded as a studio at a glance even though we do not know the exact address. They are differentiated from other houses in the village in terms of the volume and the design. The studio is not difficult to find because it is at the entrance to the village and to approach by car in spite of a narrow street. In fact the studio has been newly built a few years before. The studio which artist Lee set up for the first time in this village is nearby and now transformed and used by other artists.

The studio has two buildings. The left one is a permanent exhibition hall which includes all his works from his early days to a recent date. We can understand yesterday and today of artist Jaehyo Lee focusing on his works. It is difficult to explain before seeing it in person. It might be the space both artists and ordinary people envy. In the 1st floor with a high ceiling, there are his famous works using big trees and nails. It is the works that made him a world-famous artist. In there, participants of the open studio program were busy with taking pictures like children listening to his explanation. The space showed the essence of his works, and at the same time relieved the participants’ fatigue of a journey.

The 2nd floor is filled with his small works and so-called ‘object drawings’ that fully shows his alchemistic sense and breathing. The response of family participants was good here. Specially, children stayed here for a long time and looked at the works carefully. This space for props is where humor and wit are mingled and more enough to inspire children’s imagination than anywhere. Young students were refreshed at his works like Columbus’s egg and enjoyed his genius with brilliant ideas using common and everyday objects.

The right building is the ‘cradle’ of his works and has a study room, a main workroom, a seminar room with various props for drawing, a reception room where the artist meets guests and a permanent exhibition room. And the highlight was the permanent exhibition room in which we can meet his early works of leaves, trees and nails, which is difficult to see in a general exhibition and made him renowned throughout the world, with his anecdotes. It was an especially meaningful time and space for me as other spaces.

In particular the impressive space of the right one is a restaurant for staff. It is said the artist paid much attention to the restaurant when designing the studio by himself. It is not big and luxurious but it is remembered as a warm place where we can feel how considerate and caring the artist is for staff. This is one of the reasons why his works are felt warm. The seminar room is another cradle where we can ‘talk with the artist’ having a delicious meal. I would like to thank everyone including questioners, particularly a student and artist Lee who gave sincere answers to questions.

The open studio was an educational program, not a simple studio tour because we thought together about why his works of leaves are not broken and keep their original form, and had the time to ask ourselves and think about what nature is for us and what is the origin of nature. A sculpture, one of participants was motivated satisfying his curiosity and removing his frustration through mentoring of artist Lee and promised to keep in touch, which is, I think, one of the outcomes of this program.

It was a fruitful time to remove the participants’ prejudice against arts and sculpture, particularly their curiosity on artist Jaehyo Lee. On the day, every participant could know clearly and recognize that his current works, his achievements and his reputation were not achieved by accident. We could meet his soul in person with the scent of autumn. It was a rainy and chilly afternoon and every participant came from far away, but the day will be remembered as a meaningful and productive day when they could understand the works of artist Jaehyo Lee quite well. Especially it will be precious experience and memory for children.

Written by Chunnam Park
(Chief Curator, Cube Art Gallery of Seongnam Arts Center)

Jaehyo Lee

B.A. of Department of Sculpture, College of Fine Arts of Hongik Univ.

Solo Exhibitions
2014 Pyo Gallery, Seoul
Albemarie Gallery, London, England
M Art Gallery, Shanghai, China
HADA Gallery, London, England
2013 Ever Harvest Art Gallery, Taiwan
And others

Planned Exhibition & Group Exhibitions
2014 International Fire Sculpture Festival 2014, Samtan Art Mine Museum, Jeongseon, Gangwon
Jeonbuk Art Show 2014, Sori Arts Center, Jeonju
2013 (Duo Exhibition) The Wood of Trees, From Trees: Jaehyo Lee & Jaesam Lee, Chungmunkyu Museum, Ansan
Hommage a Whanki-Honor Kim Whanki, Whanki Museum, Seoul
New Acquisitions Exhibition, Gyeongnam Art Museum, Changwon
Taiwan International Sculpture Symposium, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
2012 Dessert Project, Jaipur, India
Korean Eye, Saatchi Gallery, London, England
Aqueous, Albemarie Gallery, London, England
A Magic Moment, Basel Art Center, Basel, Swiss
2011 Gotenyama Exhibition, Ippodo Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
And others

2008 A best award winner of Beijing Olympic Environmental Sculpture Exhibition
1998 A grand award winner of Osaka Triennale (Sculpture)
“Young Artist of Today” awards from Ministry of Culture
And others

Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation
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