Nov 20, 2015

In the Moonlight Window Of Jaesam Lee

Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation

The Neighborhood Artists - 17.Jaesam Lee

Arirang Displayed With Charcoal
There are an artist and a studio that I would like to visit. Of course the reverse is the case. Visiting artists’ studio originates from occupational interest to deeply understand artists and their work beyond meeting them officially in an exhibition or at the unofficial occasion with inertia. There might be artist who I like and works of art I am interested in. The interest in a person might be the case. I think everything is a matter of individual preference.  

When it comes to such an individual preference, artists cannot be an exception. Each artist will have their favorite topic and object, and materials and techniques. So as we look several works of an artist we like for a long time doing the legwork or enjoy specific works repetitively and intensively, we can be on the rolls of so-called a maniac of the artists and their works. We can draw characteristics and individualities differentiated from other artists’ works, and express the differentiation in our own words and sentences with confidence.

When seeing a certain work, we can add our own comments such as this is someone’s work or this is similar with works of someone and so on. These are piled up like dust and grown up into the eyes for pictures and criticism. I think songs or singers and musicians are the case. Recently I think the format of a TV program which finds out the original singer of a song also originates from such a background. However similarly somebody paints or sings, some parts will show critical difference.

In case it is difficult to distinguish with the naked eyes, five senses and the sixth sense, science will help us to tell the difference. The more flexible way in an art is the process to make a decision through a combination of the both ways, rather than choosing one way. It has a limit to judge by an eye for arts, and it does not seem to be reasonable to blindly judge arts entirely depending on science. It is often seen that a copy is more excellent than an original and print-outs are more realistic than a lithographs. In the age of surplus, when all pour out and overflow, it is not easy to distinguish an original from a real fake. There are some artists who caused fierce controversy over their authenticity. The affairs mostly are hushed up but defined by governmental authority. This is an inconvenient truth in the art world.

Jaesam Lee is renowned as a charcoal artist. He draws only in charcoal. He reached the top in understanding and judging nature of charcoal and the materialistic and artistic possibility. Any chemists, material researchers and mineralogists might not experience ‘use’ like writing and painting in charcoal as artist Jaesam Lee does. They just show off numerical value or statistical outcomes through scientific methods such as an analysis of materials or samples. Artist Jaesam Lee has done pictorial experiments with charcoal in various ways for a long time. Perhaps he is the only artist to do the experiments.

It is not too much to say that the development of an art has the same way of the invention or development of materials. The development and evolution of each genre of an art is the case I think. Of course the artistic environment and the philosophical background is one of important drivers. Various materials, new techniques and technology to develop thoughts and philosophy of an artist will be the case. I am thankful for and proud that he placidly shows the existence of charcoal which is the oldest pictorial material and the unchanged potential.

I do not know exactly what made the artist dig into charcoal. So I was excited about visiting the studio this time. Jaesam Lee is an artist I would like to meet from a long time ago. I am just curious about his studio, not asking for answer to a lot of curiosity. For example, what kind of books and what genre of albums he has, how many old works he has, and what the studio means to him. I guess most participants in the open studio came from a far out of such curiosities in the late autumn.

With warm guidance and explanation at every corner of the studio the cold in autumn ran away. The spacious studio with a high ceiling started to fill with bright smile and moonlight. When asked by someone, he answered “I did not use charcoal from the beginning, but long ago, suddenly charcoal came up to his behaviors and breaths of drawing like a destiny. It also seemed to come closer like a woman, a pine, moonlight, corn and apricot flowers and waterfalls. Possibly we can say they come together at the same time.

All participants will remember Jaesam Lee whenever and wherever they meet and whatever he looks like. We can see in our mind’s eye, not in our naked eye. This is because he and his works are unique. It has no resemblance with anyone. Because anyone does not more deeply love materials and objects than he does. This is none other than the results from keeping falling in love, not running after trend of times and caring about others’ eyes. Rather than following an esthetic sense of times he is chanting his own pictorial Arirang seeking for the Korean traditional esthetic sense and emotion. I was truly satisfied and felt good with meeting him for a long time.

I remember a few things. Most participants do. Those are vivid memories in his hometown Youngwol Gangwon-do he told us but we cannot know fully, well-thumbed watch of his father, his vintage audio that push our body and pull our mind and so on. The moonlight sonata in his painting must be the future image with nostalgia created by unifying these memorable things. It was a warm time like energy from the good-looking stove in the studio.

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

Jaesam Lee

M.A. of Western Paintings at Hongik Univ.
B.A. of Department of Fine Arts (Major: Western Painting) at Kangnung Univ.

Solo Exhibitions
2015 Lee Jae-sam Exhibition, Shim Museum of Art, Chungju
Lee Jae-sam Exhibition, Gallery Dooin, Seoul
Lee Jae-sam Exhibition, Lotte Gallery_Main Branch, Seoul
2013 Lee Jae-sam Exhibition, ARTSIDE Gallery, Seoul
Lee Jae-sam Exhibition, Space K, Gwacheon
And others

Planned Exhibition & Group Exhibitions
2015 Beyond the borders, Culture Station Seoul284, Seoul
2014 Eumpoongnongwol*-Sagunja(Gentlemen), Love and Enjoy the Arts, Woljeon Museum, Icheon (*Note: Eumpoongnongwol is enjoying wind and moon and delight in poetry)
The 1st Anniversary of NMCA Seoul : Garden, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul
Samtan Samhyun, Samtan Art Mine Museum, Jeongseon
2013 (Duo Exhibition) The Wood of Trees, From Trees: Jaehyo Lee&Jaesam Lee, Chungmunkyu Museum, Ansan
Jinkyung of Today Exhibition, Gyeomjae jeongseon Memorial Museum, Seoul (*Jinkyung means real landscape painting.)
2012 Seoul Museum of Art, New Acquisitions Exhibition, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul
2011 Korean Art Today, Korean Cultural Center, Sydney, Austrailia
2010 HIM of Gyeonggi-do, Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Ansan
2008 Korean Artists, Gallery Braunbehrens, Munich, Germany
And others

Awards
1988 A participation award winner of Joongang Art Competition
1983 A best prize winner of the Youth Art Awards

Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation
Credits: All media
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