Lee Kun-Yong

29.08.2023 | 02.09.2023
Pièce Unique

“Usually, a painter paints something on the two-dimensional surface that he or she is facing. In my case I place the panel in front of my body and draw lines as far as my body allows without being able to see the pictorial surface. So it is not that I draw something on the two-dimensional surface while seeing it with my eyes, as my conscious instructs me. Rather, it is to represent the process through which my body perceives the two-dimensional surface, via the lines drawn by the movements of my arm.” - Lee Kun-Yong

MASSIMODECARLO Pièce Unique is pleased to announce the debut exhibition of Lee Kun-Yong's work in France. Lee's artistic practice revolves around the movement of the body in space and its relationship with time. He places importance on the process of creation rather than the final outcome, working across diverse mediums such as performance art, painting, video, sculpture, and installations. Rejecting the conventional approach of representing what is seen, Lee pioneers a method that emphasizes bodily engagement and direct interaction with the canvas. His work explores the intersection of performance, movement, and artistic expression, with a focus on eliminating the interference of sight and conscious thought.

By intentionally excluding the act of "seeing" during the artistic process, Lee aims to bypass the introduction of subjective thoughts, biases, and conceptualization that can arise when an artist visually observes their own work. Instead, he delves into the essence of artistic creation by allowing his body to guide the painting process without the influence of sight.

To maintain a direct connection between his body and the canvas, Lee adopts a distinct physical positioning. His titling convention, as exemplified by "76-1," signifies the specific methodology employed in his engagement with the surface. It indicates that he stands behind the canvas or screen, extending his arm as far as possible to create the artwork. For instance, "76-2" is painted as far as both arms can reach with his back to the screen, while "76-3" is drawn with the canvas on his side, marking a semicircle with either arm and so on. This deliberate positioning emphasizes the physicality and bodily presence inherent in his artistic practice, reinforcing the absence of sight as a guiding factor.

One notable series by Lee is "The Method of Drawing," where he performs the act of gestural drawing in front of an audience. This series reflects his interest in capturing the movement of the body and its relationship with the medium of drawing. In "Snail's Gallop," Lee transforms his body into an instrument, creating marks on the floor as he moves forward, highlighting the connection between movement and mark-making.

Lee Kun-yong's contributions to Korean performance art are significant, and he played a crucial role in establishing two collectives in the mid-20th century: the Avant-Garde Group and the Space and Time Group. His works are showcased in renowned museums and collections, including the Seoul Museum of Art, the Daegu Art Museum, the Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, the Tate, and the Rachofsky House.

In 2020, Lee was featured in The Artsy Vanguard, which recognizes influential artists shaping contemporary art. His conceptual approach to capturing movement through space continues to inspire and influence artists worldwide.

The Artist

Lee Kun-Yong