Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night" has inspired countless imitations. But a Korean artist is making his stand apart by putting down the paintbrush and picking up the Styrofoam.
Lee Kyu Hak has reinterpreted the Dutch painter's iconic works by wrapping bits of newspaper and magazines around pieces of Styrofoam to create stunning mixed-media mosaics for a collection he calls "The Monumental Series."
"First, my works were mostly conceptual with monographic colors and horizontal [and] vertical patterns," Lee, who said he was first inspired by Van Gogh's "Champs de Blé avec Corbeaux," told the Daily News.
Lee Kyu Hak has labeled his collection of Van Gogh recreations ‘The Monumental Series.’ Pictured is ‘Branches with Almond Blossom.’
"One day I thought, 'How about paying homage to Van Gogh through my works since his works were my greatest inspiration to stay motivated?'"
The Korean artist has since lent his mixed-media touch to several of the 19th-century artist's works, including "Still Life: Vase with Irises," "Blooming Almond Tree" and "The Night Café."
Lee uses the pieces of Styrofoam to imitate each of Van Gogh's paint strokes, covering the pieces with colorful strips of newspaper and magazines and re-wrapping them with hanji, traditional Korean paper.
Each mixed media relief contains up to 30,000 pieces of Styrofoam. Pictured is ‘Still Life of Iris.’
The artworks, which are on display at the Black Square Gallery in Miami and Yesong Gallery in Seoul, contain about 25,000 to 30,000 pieces of Styrofoam each.
"To me, Styrofoam was the best material symbolizing the modern civilization," Lee said, explaining that he decided to work with mixed-media because it best represented the "vanity" of contemporary culture.
"Styrofoam is easily broken and easily melted with heat, but non-biodegradable like plastic."
Lee, a graduate of Chung-Ang University in Seoul, says he's sticking to reinterpreting Van Gogh's works for now, though he has strayed from the artist once to create Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain."
Lee Kyu Hak says he uses mixed media to highlight the ‘vanity’ of contemporary culture. Pictured is ‘Sand Barges.’
Lee said that when he's finished with his Van Gogh series, he'll move on to his next endeavor, the "Nomad Project."
"I'll travel from city to city in different countries, staying [IN]each city about six months and discover my own narratives," he explained.
Lee Kyu Hak uses the wrapped Styrofoam pieces to imitate each of Van Gogh's paint strokes. Pictured is ‘Night Cafe No. 2.’
But Lee said that he won't say goodbye to his technique even as he moves on to different subjects.
"I am going to keep this mixed media mosaic technique as long as it harmonizes well with my themes," he added.