The work of Korean artist Jaehyo Lee demonstrates a solid respect for raw materials and an innovative approach for displaying their characteristics. His Transformations series makes use of of meshes of logs and bent nails, which have been planed to form cross sections that reveal the structure of the materials within.
Lee’s sculptural works have always incorporated natural elements on a grand scale, from the icicle sculptures he grew using hanging thread, to the vast to arrays of dangling rocks suspended in mid-air which can be seen within his display studio in Yangpyeong, Korea. But it is his sculptural furniture which makes use of cross-sectional wood that has attracted worldwide attention.
This 15 minute video offers a unique insight into both the design and production processes Jaehyo Lee’s works including his wood and nails sculptures. The video is in Korean with English subtitles and documents his journey to recognition amongst the art world.
“I had never thought that an artist could live off the sales of his works, there was no-one like that around me.”
Although some of his pieces were on show in art galleries such as the Albemarle Gallery in London, many of his sculptures have found their way into hotel lobbies where they can be on constant display and accessible to the wider public.
“Constructing artwork out of unfamiliar materials might actually be easier. But I believe you can get more of a ‘wow effect’ when you create a striking piece from every day, common materials.”
Jaehyo Lee has never been one to take the quick and easy options when it comes to creating his artworks and each one requires an extraordinary amount of physical work to make. His sculptures are produced by himself and a team of artisans from his workshop in Yangpyeong and a lot of them make use of scrap timber.
“Though I may take my time to create my pieces, though I may be an artist behind the times, this is who I am. … I’m just doing the work that fits me well, thus here I am still hammering away in this digital age.”
Some of his wooden sculptures might appear as though the spaces between the trunks have been filled in with a black substance but this is merely due to the effects of charring and shadows. To apply a finishing touch to his wood and nails sculptures, Jaehyo Lee first burns the materials and then sands down the exposed faces to create a high contrasting colours.
“I want to express the wood’s natural characteristics, without adding my intentions.”
“The globe is the simplest form that demonstrates the wood’s original energy; no corners, no angles, and the same shape from whichever side you look at it. I like to make the most out of the material’s inherent feeling.”
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