Lee Seung Taek

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 Lee Seung Taek's Career

He made a living by drawing portraits for American soldiers during and after the Korean War. As a student, Lee became fascinated by Nietzsche 's philosophy, which led him to pursue experimental art of the metaphysical. With his ambition to "leave a footprint as an artist in Korean modern art history", he decided to become an artist of his own world by thinking inversely about the world and freely expressing himself and his ideas.

History and Time, at the 1958 Undergraduate Exhibition for the Department of Sculpture at Hongik University , he departed from the conventions of the Korean modern art.While at an exhibition to receive the Nam June Paik Art Center International Art Award, the chief curator of the Nam June Paik Art Center, Tobias Berger, mentioned that "Seung-taek Lee's artwork surpasses the main centers of traditional western modern art history".

In 1988, he served as Vice-president of Korean Fine Arts Association, and has worked as its Adviser since 1989. He became Representative Commissioner of various committees, such as Recycling through Art of National Theater of Korea in 2007, Le Biennale di Venezia in 1990, and the Exchange Exhibition of Modern Art between Korea and Japan in 1985. From 1970 to 1987, he lectured on modern art history in University of Seoul and Graduate School for nine years and in Mokwon University and Graduate School for nine years.

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 Lee Seung Taek's Works

Earliest work: late 1950sedit

The image depicted a female body composed of bare bones, without any flesh or muscle. Lee questioned himself whether he can even negate the bones, the remainder, and moved on to creating works without solid forms; he became interested in immateriality . He was then inspired by smoke coming out of Saudi Arabia 's oil-burning furnace, which was broadcast on the news. He realized that smoke, wind, and fire are the only elements that can be expressed without a solid form.

He made a large sculpture namedHistory and Timein 1958 for his university graduation show. The work consists of a U-shaped piece of plaster , which is wrapped with barbed wire and smeared colors of red and blue. According to the artist, the red represents Communism and the blue represents Democracy. He wanted to express the "tragedy of weak countries caught between warring Cold War superpowers" during the Korean War.

His interest in fundamental changes in physical materiality led to the production of the Godret stone series. Although Lee's shaped Godret stones seem soft and shapeable, they are hard and solid in essence. In 2004, Lee further explained his thinking behind the piece in Kim Yung-hee's essayFollowing the Godret Stone: Entangled Energy/Spiritual World with Modernity. The work's visual impact comes from the "tension between the wooden bar, precariously hung from two thin cords, and the clusters of bifurcated stones that effectively conjure a sense of gravitational pressure".

1960sedit

The Wind Fence(1964) is composed of wood sticks and fabric.The wood sticks are firmly embedded to the ground in a circular orientation. The fabrics are tied to every stick and they horizontally connect each wood stick to another, forming four zig-zagged circles. Overall, they form a shape of a fence. Lee considers finding new subject matters significant for inventing new concept and method for his art.In the same year, he did some performance art such asThe Burning Canvas Floating on the River(1964).He burned his old paintings and let them drift away in the Han River to demonstrate his defiant drive to "escape from the bonds of the past".

, oroji, the "dark semi-porous earthenware traditionally used in Korea for storing and fermenting various condiments", works.In the second exhibition of the Original Form Association (Wonhyonghoe), he publicly unveiled hisonggi-based works. He joined the group for their second exhibition in November 1964 at the Central Information Center next to Toksu Palace in Seoul, Korea.

This work inspired a series of two-dimensional and installation works made with hair.In 1967, he created a huge installation work that was made from Lee's accidental experiment, which occurred when he went to a military camp near the DMZ to draw a portrait for a division commander. He obtained bags full of hair of new recruits and used them to create the installation work in a then-newly-built church.

In order to capture his large-scale experimental and performance artworks, Lee used photography since the early 1960s. Because the size of his work was not clear in photographs, he took pictures of himself with his art in order to clarify the scale of the works. The photos showing the artist and his process of field work have become a trademark of Seung-taek Lee.

1970sedit

Seung-Taek Lee, Drawing, 1974, cord

In addition, he produced works that are made by nature.The unpredictability of his subjects, such as wind, fire, and smoke, played a significant role in the making of his non-materiality works.Paper Tree(1970) andWind-Folk Amusement(1971) are Lee's signature works from the wind series. The artist used everyday materials, such as cloth and paper, to visualize the direction and force of the wind.At the MOT International exhibition in London, thePaper Treeinstallation and the photographic documentation ofWind-Folk Amusementgive the form to the "transience of nature" and capture the energetic movement of the wind. Moreover, Lee's concept of non-materialization is revealed in the Fire series such asBurning Buddha Statue(1965–1971), in which he sets fire to a sacred icon. Such act is often overlooked as blasphemy against Buddha; however, according to the artist, it is an act of "purification" that recalls the ancient history of Buddhism.Natural landscape and elements act as an artistic medium, as well as a backdrop to Lee's performances and outdoor installations.

Green Campaign(1975).Lee created a green landscape inGreen Campaign Installation(1976), which resembles a green river, by pouring a mix of fertilizer, moss, and water on a rock in order to create a more natural design.

1980sedit

In addition, Lee expressed his pleasure for working on his art in isolation, such as in the deep mountains or fields without concerning other people's attention. He oftentimes conducts experimental performances for himself or for a small number of people in the art field. He declared for the Self-Burning Performance Art Festival in 1989 that he would make one or two artworks in various types each day of the exhibition period, and later burn the works. He conductedSelf-Burning Performancein 1989 andBurning Modern Sculpturein 1984 to demonstrate such ideas. Moreover, Lee presented his 'thinking inversely' philosophy by questioning the necessity of frames and their role for aesthetic presentation of paintings.He therefore produced works throughout the 70s and the 80s . Many of them were wooden frames with the corners and edges bound by colorful cords. His idea of 'thinking inversely' is also reflected on his works surrounding the topic of sex. He considers sex as the "foundation of human history" and that it has played a significant role for the societal evolution. Because sex and art are inseparable entities, many artists, including Seung-taek Lee, use sex as a motif. Through his object works likeSexual Organs on TV(1987), he satirized roles of television. On the other hand, Lee created his visual commentary on ethicality issues of sex. He placed genital-shaped objects on trees, liquor bottles, boots, and other objects in order to challenge the common notion of abashment about sexual images.

1990s and onwardedit

He also conducted several performances likeEarth Performance(1990) andWind Performanceat a Back Hill (2009) at Nam June Paik Art Centre. Along with massive, painterly abstractions, Lee used watercolor, moss, and other materials to transform the land into a canvas.At the Gwangju Art Biennale, Lee exhibited a monumental, double self-portraitThe Artist to be Out of Breath(1991). The work consists of "bales of old clothes bound together into spindly, multi-limbed armatures that sprout two massive, scowling heads". As if suffering from exhaustion, the twisted, body-like arrangements are laid out on the floor. Black and white patterned, wooden beams connect those arrangements. In a larger context, the work deals with the division of Korea and the allegory of a state torn apart by war, along with ideological differences from the Cold War . Furthermore, Lee createdA Bridge Not Able to Crossin 1990 to portray the issues of the divided nation.With fervent ardor, Seung-taek Lee has "cultivated his own art world" for more than sixty years. His constant questioning of "can even this be art?" has further motivated him to investigate new non-material objects and art. He has continued having performances and exhibitions around the globe and produces works in Seoul , Korea.

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 Lee Seung Taek's Awards

  • 2009 Winner of Nam June Paik Art Center Prize 2009, Korea
  • 2002 Achievement Award, DongA Art Festival, DongA Media, Korea
  • 2000 Bokwan Order of Culture Merit Award from Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Korea
  • 1994 Award from Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Korea
  • 1985 The Grand Prize of International Outdoor Sculpture Festival, Aomori Museum of Art, Japan
  • 1978 Wnnder of DongA Art Festival, DongA Media, Korea
  • 1977 The Grand Prize of Space Art Award, SPACE Magazine, Korea

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 Lee Seung Taek's References

  1. Lee, Sook-Kyung (2014). "Seung-Taek Lee's Godret Stone, 1958". Tate. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  2. Oh, Sanggil; Kim, Chandong; Kim, Yunghee; Yang, Gunyrol; Sa, Haejeong; Lee, Hui; Kim, Wonbang (2004). Lee Seung-taek: Non-Material Works (1 ed.). Seoul, South Korea: ICAS Publishing. ISBN 8995267453. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  3. ArtAsiaPacific, ArtAsiaPacific. "Issue 69". http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/69. Retrieved 23 March 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  4. Gallery Hyundai, Gallery Hyundai. "Seung-taek Lee". http://www.galleryhyundai.com/. Gallery Hyundai. Retrieved 18 March 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  5. Smith, Roberta (2013). "40 Nations, 1,000 Artists and One Island Frieze New York at Randalls Island" (Art and Design / Art Review). The New York Times. 
  6. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul. Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 92. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  7. "Lee Seung-taek's Non-Sculptures". Retrieved 2015-08-10. 
  8. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 86. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  9. e-flux, e-flux. "2014 Nam June Paik Art Center Prize: Haroon Mirza". http://www.e-flux.com/. e-flux. Retrieved 18 March 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  10. "Seung-Taek Lee". Retrieved 2015-05-21. 
  11. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 13. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  12. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 103. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  13. "Seung-Taek Lee". Retrieved 2015-05-22. 
  14. "Lee Seung-taek's Non-Sculptures". Retrieved 2015-05-22. 
  15. Design, Erskine. "Frieze Magazine | Archive | Archive | Seung-Taek Lee". www.frieze.com. Retrieved 2015-05-22. 
  16. "Seung-Taek Lee's Godret Stone, 1958". www.tate.org.uk. Retrieved 2015-05-22. 
  17. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 90. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  18. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 23. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  19. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. pp. 91, 24. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  20. "Lee Seung-taek's Non-Sculptures". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  21. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. pp. 91, 59. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  22. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. pp. 91–92. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  23. Lee Seung-taek Non-Material Works. Seoul, Korea: ICAS Publishing co. 2004. p. 212. ISBN 89-952674-5-3. 
  24. Lee Seung-taek Non-Material Works. Seoul, Korea: ICAS Publishing co. 2004. p. 69. ISBN 89-952674-5-3. 
  25. "Seung-Taek Lee | MOTINTERNATIONAL". www.motinternational.com. Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  26. Lee Seung-taek Non-Material Works. Seoul, Korea: ICAS Publishing co. 2004. pp. 67,237. ISBN 89-952674-5-3. 
  27. Lee Seung-taek Non-Material Works. Seoul, Korea: ICAS Publishing co. 2004. p. 150. ISBN 89-952674-5-3. 
  28. "Seung-Taek Lee". Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  29. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 32. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  30. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 97. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  31. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 93. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  32. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 25. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  33. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 26. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  34. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 88. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  35. "seungtaek lee at gwangju art biennale 2010". Retrieved 2015-05-26. 
  36. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 91. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 
  37. Seung-taek Lee – Think Reform. Seoul, Korea: Gallery Hyundai. 2014. p. 102. ISBN 978-89-6736-049-8. 

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