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The Charm of Lee Kyo-Jun's Minimalism

Updated: Oct 14, 2023

Lee Kyo-Jun began his official artistic career in 1979 at the Daegu Contemporary Art Festival and has participated in major contemporary art exhibitions of the Korean art community during the 70s and the 80s. Lee's planar work is simple in two ways. One is that the screen is split in a straight line, and the other is that it is implemented solely within the frame of a plane. Showcasing his planar work from the early 1990s, Lee's art pieces were an experiment to combine various materials such as lithography, charcoal, acrylic, and watercolours and to arrange them into paintings. Since the mid-2000s, he has introduced more diversified planar paintings through the 'window' series, which included vivid colours and grids. He also demonstrated the 'void' series, in which he attempted to express his work into a three dimensional space using plywood. Lee Kyo-jun constructs his work in a new format that reinterprets an object in lines and planes. His work, which is not defined in any of the concepts of figurative nor abstract art, shows what he wants to express with rather minimalistic materials. The unfamiliar but somewhat mundane feeling comes from the usage of monotone colours and simple form.

The most impressive piece of Lee Kyo-jun's works was the one with several lines drawn on an aluminium plate. As soon as I saw this piece, I was fascinated by the balance of beauty and perfection coming from the intersection of lines and even areas. There was no specific explanation about this piece from Lee, but I thought of the theme of Spatio-temporal separation through the division of materials using the lines in this piece.

Segmentation is one of the most frequent elements shown in modern society. The windows of buildings divided with window frames, crosswalks using alternatively coloured boxes of white and black, and the compartments of public toilets divided with walls show segmentation in our daily lives. In terms of 2-dimensional shapes, all of these examples may be described as a large rectangle divided with lines. Although time is also a medium that cannot be expressed in form, every moment is segmented into units of seconds, minutes, and hours. Regarding this, segmentation is a very significant and common portion of our lives. I suppose Lee intended to express the division of time and space by drawing several lines on aluminium, which gives a clear and smooth texture. Rather than expressing visual images straightforwardly, Lee creates his works to make instantaneous sensations in the form of colour, texture, and consistency of materials. Simplicity contains more meanings than complexity, and Lee Kyo-Jun truly acknowledges this fact.

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