Movements Within: Kyuhak Lee

March 19 - April 12, 2020

Due to the temporary closure of our gallery space in light of the worldwide impact of Covid-19, BLANK SPACE is presenting its first online exhibition featuring a selection of works by South Korean artist Kyu Hak Lee. This exhibition features a selection of works spanning the last eight years of Lee's career and focuses on the the development of his technique and style across that time.


Lee is known for his unique form of mixed media mosaic which blends a number materials and techniques to recontextualize historical works of art and reinterperate them through a contemporary lens. Lee creates his works through a multi step process in which he takes a strip of styrofoam, which is wrapped then wrapped in newspaper or magazine paper, and then wrapped again in a traditional Korean paper called Hanji. This strip is then cut to resemble the brushstroke of the painting he is reimagining, coated in both a matte sealent and a UV protectant varnish, and placed in the frame. These steps are then repeated thousands of times until the image is complete. When asked how long it takes him to create one of his medium sized works, Lee replied, "If I work for one month, seven days a week, for twelve hours a day, maybe I can get one done."


By using this specific technique, Lee calls into question not only the history of Eastern and Western art, by blending materials and styles from both sides of the globe, but also the relevancy of art in contemporary society. Incorporating text into the works through the use of newspaper and magazine clippings, Lee points to the monumental status of his inspiration through their literary records; articles, reviews, even books have been written about these works and their place in the canon. Through his reimagining of them with upcycled, throwaway materials, he comments on the shift to digital forms and the lack of a historical record other than image making in contemporary society. What's more is that images of his work, especially from a distance on a smartphone camera, often do not capture the details of his work and instead present an image that is largely indistinguisable from the original work.


It is only through looking closely at the works that the incredbile details are noticable. In his large scale piece, Wheat Field with Crows, 2015, Lee uses very little paint to get the desired depth and simulated brushstrokes of the work and he forgoes rendering the image in its original colors. Instead, he builds the textured and gestural field with only skillfully placed textual elements on white and relies upon the crevises between each piece to separate each stroke. The resulting monochromatic piece highlights Lee's ability to distill Van Gogh's work to its core quality; its unmistakable brushtrokes.


Born in Gyeongju, South Korea, Kyu-Hak Lee received a Master of Fine Arts from Chung-Ang University, and currently lives and works in Korea. He has since exhibited in Miami, Seoul, Paris, Zürich and Frankfurt, and his work are held in the Perez Museum in Miami, Boghossian Foundation in Belgium, Busch Co. in Germany, Artist Pension Trust in England, Arteallimite Collection in Chile, and private collections in Monaco, London, New York, Paris, Miami, Shanghai, Geneva and Mexico. Most recently, Lee has finished his first public commission for a corporate collection in Dallas, TX, two works at six by ten feet each, which will be installed and unveiled in the coming months.

Installation Views