Spotlight: Two Decades of Lee Choun Hwan’s Vibrant Visions of the Korean Landscape Are on View in London

The artist's exhibition "Rooted Island” is now on view at London's Saatchi Gallery, hosted by Seojung Art.

Lee Choun Hwan, The Mood of the Mountain #426 (2021). Courtesy of Seojung Art.
Lee Choun Hwan, The Mood of the Mountain #426 (2021). Courtesy of Seojung Art.

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About the Artist: Lee Choun Hwan (b. 1956) was raised on the island of Wando, off the coast of mainland Korea, where he learned ink calligraphy from his grandfather. Both the lessons of his grandfather and the beauty of the natural terrain deeply informed his developing style. After years spent working in calligraphy, Lee began painting different facets of the Korean terrain 20 years ago, mixing traditional Korean art styles with Western mediums. Now, the artist’s solo exhibition, “Rooted Island,” will be on view for five days at London’s Saatchi Gallery, hosted through Seojung Art. The works on view signal Lee’s continued exploration of the energy of the Korean landscape.   

Installation view “Rooted Island,” 2022. Photograph by Lucy Emms.

Why We Like It: “Rooted Island” brings together works from across the past two decades, tracing the artist’s shifting fascination with the landscape of his homeland, from renderings of the visible natural elements to his attempts to capture the energy and spirit of the terrain. The works range from righteously colorful mountainscapes to abstracted horizons. Over the years, the artist has climbed the peaks of Korea many times in order to create his “The Mood of the Mountain” series, consisting of images of mountains rendered in brilliant hues. The artist was also deeply influenced by a meeting with monk and philosopher Beopjeong. He inspired Lee’s “The Moon Jar” series, which explores the concept of “Musoyu spirit” in which “emptiness makes fullness possible.” This concept, in turn, inspired the artist to ultimately move toward abstraction, eliminating the figure and recognizable objects from his canvases. His more recent “Light+Grain” series depicts the moonlit seascapes of his hometown, finding serenity in his local environment.

Installation view "Rooted Island," 2022. Photograph by Lucy Emms

Installation view “Rooted Island,” 2022. Photograph by Lucy Emms

According to the Gallery: “The exhibition title ‘Lee Choun Hwan: Rooted Island’ refers to an island deeply embedded in the artist’s work. Here, ‘island’ refers to the artist’s hometown, the island of Wando, and simultaneously the Korean island, where the artist has taken root, a geographical peninsula with blocked connections to the continent… Even though Lee has covered several materials, it is noteworthy that his series are all linked to each other. Since the exhibition shows all the series of the artist, it provides an opportunity to feel the interactions between works, and Lee’s life-long endeavors to find his root and to broaden the artistic world.”

See images from the show, below:

Lee Choun Hwan, The Mood of the Mountain #364 (2020). Courtesy of Seojung Art.

Lee Choun Hwan, The Mood of the Mountain #364 (2020). Courtesy of Seojung Art.

Lee Choun Hwan, The Mood of the Mountain #902 (2022). Courtesy of Seojung Art.

Lee Choun Hwan, The Mood of the Mountain #902 (2022). Courtesy of Seojung Art.

Lee Choun Hwan, Saekdongwalmae #546 (2020). Courtesy of Seojung Art.

Lee Choun Hwan, Saekdongwalmae #546 (2020). Courtesy of Seojung Art.

Lee Choun Hwan, Light+Grain #206 (2020). Courtesy of Seojung Art.

Lee Choun Hwan, Light+Grain #206 (2020). Courtesy of Seojung Art.

 

Lee Choun Hwan: Rooted Island” is on view at London’s Saatchi Gallery from March 31 to April 4.


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