When ever I saw a sculptor's work resembling a lump of clay or a bowl, I used to try to find out the artist's intention. In the past when I created a piece I used to try to convey the meaning and the function of the project to spectators. However, there came a point in time, I don't remember exactly, when I began to see a sculptor's work without the need to understand the artist's intention. Presently, I try to escape from the pattern of [planning and following the plan], in my work because I have come to realize that forcing spectators to understand the artist's intention and forcing artists to explain the work is a sort of intellectual violence, which blocks the flow of emotion in my heart. When I am freed from the obsession of the result of my creation, my freedom can give light to the memories in my heart so that I can re-live a spiritual journey.
Travel is both the source and purpose of my work. Usually I travel into the past space and time of human beings through my eyes, heart and work. In these travels I experience the long history of human beings. These travels bring a value to my humble existence as a member of the human race and my role in the culture. The journeys are very sweet, but to taste these sweetness travelers are required to overcome the unbearable pain of chaos and the temptation of corruption which entices the travelers in a mirage-like image.
For me, the world is like a swift current, while the inside of my body is calm pond.
I dip one foot into the swift current and the other into the calm pond. Sometimes after this, I feel an extreme chaos and tremble in the face of fear. In order to escape from the chaos I swift my feet, swift the center of my weight from one foot deeper than the other.
When I was a child I liked to play seesaw. With the weight of my sister on the other side I could see the factories far away over the wall, and with a downward movement, I could see the blue sky becoming bigger and bigger. I can still remember vividly the balancing on the seesaw. Today I enjoy the slow and calm balancing between the head and the heart, the swift current and calm pond, the factories over the wall and the blue sky.
Playing on the seesaw we can not feel the subtle changes of the world without an effort to balance. Even the seesaw requires both tension and rhythm to some extent.
- Hun-chung Lee's Essay
Embrace the trace of thoughts in the space.
The artist, Lee, Hun Chung, is a quiet person. He spends flourishing day at the studio all through the day, willing to endure seemingly unbearable work as if he was born to be a richly gifted artist by nature. More, his thinking power is comparatively multilevel and multilateral. It is hardly prescribed the pattern of his work to a certain types of trend, but his private exhibitions showed his comprehensive journey to artwork. He seems to focuse on a certain point of the world, however, sometimes, he also moves to unexpected action just like squall in the summertime. Since I have known him for a long, I used to have a scent of rich passion issued out of a dark red roses from him.
This kind of sculptural ideas could come from his liberal sense of sculpture that might be obtained from clay, the very primitive natural material. However, apart from the material experiment, I began to think of a warrior who made constant challenge toward the extreme point of sculptural art, judging from his pictorial sense and sculptural talent. Although the majored in contemporary ceramics arts in his undergraduate and graduate school, studying abroad in USA has largely influenced him to expend his sculptural concepts in the current of contemporary art.
What is noteworthy is that he studied at the San Francisco Art Institute in the Western US, not the Eastern US. The Western US is the stronghold of the birth of abstract expressionism. Including Black Mountain College where the seeds of color field abstract was planted, the Western US was the major activity field of Peter Voulkos in his lifetime, the great master of contemporary ceramics who had laid the cornerstone of the concept of super object. He majored sculpture not ceramics at school, located in this region. He inevitably absorbed the new currents of contemporary arts and ranged over extensive concept of sculptural art, escaping from the realm of ceramic genre. After return from abroad in 1997, Lee, Hun Chung carried out ceramics and conceptual installation artwork side by side, expanding his artistic territory without boundary. In particular, his private installation exhibitions at Jang-Heung Total Museum of Contemporary Art and The Korean Culture&Arts Foundation (the present Art Center Arko) in 1998 and 2000 respectively were the turning point to imprint his capacity and talent in the art circles as a fine artist rather than a ceramist. He gave full play to his experimental ability and futuristic motion by means of the private exhibition at Total Museum of Contemporary Art. With the sculptural medium such as water, ice, lighting, movement and sound, he conducted conceptual research on natural object and environment, circumstances and phenomenon itself. He reflected the conceptual thoughts for the 'Change of Time' at the exhibition mentioned above. But, on the other side, he also showed assemblage of manufactured goods under the title of 'collection of Market and Mandara' at installation exhibition, the Korean Culture &Arts Foundation. By collecting and compounding all different kind of manufactured goods including plastic basket, trashcan, artificial turf, chocolate, tool, ladder, laundry board, etc, he examined the art form as a kind of process art or unfinished structure. This kind of his attitude showed that he does not only break down walls of boundary between art and routine life, eternal thing and disposable thing, popular culture and fine art, but he also deviates from the fixed idea. It certainly brought up the image of aesthetics of happening that transforms the art to an event or a good reason to grant significant meaning. This newly introduced mapping of sculptural art was in collusion with object aesthetics of Marcel Duchamp, but it also highlighted the other side of conceptual art, so-called Conceptual Suggestion.
Since 2000, Hun-chung, Lee understood the clay as a vitalized body and realized the sculptural concept, focusing on clay work as it is called Ceramic Sculpture. Actually, for Lee, Hun Chung, ceramics, as sculptural expression that combines technical perfection with instrumental power, is in contact with 'realization of eternity', what the sculpture seeks for. Therefore, even his magnanimous monumental ceramic sculpture or vessels delivered completed physical significances. What the distinguished feature in his artworks was the revelation of very epic and organic life force. In his artworks, he did not only express the human body including the memory of childhood or anonymous portrait but also reflected the Korean spirit and optimistic view of the world as it was in his vessel that embracing the simple popular ceramics or the beauty of form of folk arts.
In particular, he radiated the distinguished supernatural power in his ceramic plaques such as limitless imagination on the basis of childish innocence, primitivism, embodied in symbolical icon and pictorial artistic beauty. At a bird eye's view of Lee, Hun Chung's wide range of creation, we can easily witness that his sculptural artworks are totally free regardless of medium or modernistic genre. Moreover, he dissolved them in integrated manners. His sculptural energy rotates on its own axis on the strength of nomadism rather than settlment, mixed blood rather than pure blood and experimental free spirit rather than stereotypical mind.
Above all things, he intended to maximize so-called Site-Specific, one of the characteristics of installation art. The main theme that he would like to stress in this manner was presumably to record the activity so-called art as a significant indicator in the mundane world. Here the significant indicator could be considered as 'Aspiration of Artistic Paradise', provided that the power of art could change the energy of life on the unfinished harsh land and pave the way to dream beyond the tragedy.
Lee, Hun Chung considered the unfinished gallery as a vessel, designed to express his desire of sculptural expression in it. That was not only the historical site of installation art where the very sole site-specific aesthetics was maximized but also the artistic poem dedicated to the unfinished space.
- Dong-gwang Jang (Independent Curator, Art Crtic)
1967 Born in Seoul, Korea
1993-'95 M.F.A. Sculpture, Graduate School at San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, U.S.A
1991-'95 M.F.A. Ceramic Sculpture, Graduate School at Hong-ik University, Seoul, Korea
1986-'91 B.F.A. Ceramic Sculpture, Hong-ik University, Seoul, Korea
2007 Park Ryu Sook Gallery, JeJu, Korea
2007 SP Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2006 U-Ri-Gu-Rut RYU, Seoul, Korea
2006 Kangha Museum, Yangpeong
2005 Wong Gallery, Seoul
2004 Gallery Artside, Seoul, Korea
2003 Pack Hye Young Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2002 U-Ri-Gu-Rut RYU, Seoul, Korea
2001 Wong Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2001 U-Ri-Gu-Rut RYU, Seoul, Korea
2000 The Korean Culture ＆ Art Foundation Art Center, Seoul, Korea
2000 Tokonoma Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland
2000 U-Ri-Gu-Rut RYU, Seoul, Korea
1998 Total Museum, Jangheung, Korea
1997 Tho·Dorang, Seoul, Korea
1996 Tho·Art Space, Seoul, Korea
Selected Group Exhibitioins
2007 Suwon Hwaseong Fortress Theatre Festival
Installation Art , Suwon
2006 Melbourne Art Fair, Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Australia
Artist's Garden, Clayarch Gimhae Museum,Gimhae
New York S.O.F.A., Regiment Armory, New York
2005 From Korea Function &Object D'Art, Hillside Terrace, Tokyo, World Trade Art Gallery, New York, Mille Plateaux, Paris
E-MOMM, E-Wha Womans University A-dong Museum, Seoul
The Beauty of Korean, Korean Embassy of Venezuela, Venezuela
2004 Looking at the Atelier, Insa art center, Seoul
Sinawi Exhibition, Insa Art Center, Seoul
2004 International Exchange Exhibition of The Korean Society of
Basic Design & Art , Kukmin Univ., Seoul
Melbourne Art Fair, Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Australia