The current interest in Korean Dansaekhwa seems to have legs, to the extent that there is an emerging wave of second generation artists to complement the established generation of Park Seo-bo and Yun Hyong-keun. Thus recently at White Cube we had Kim Min-jung’s solo show; and now at HdM Gallery there is Lee Jin-woo. Although this is Lee’s first solo show in London, he is a well-established name whose work was included in the 2015/16 group show in Paris’s Musée Cernuschi, Seoul-Paris-Seoul, held as part of L’Année France Corée.
Lee was born in 1959: he acknowledges a strong influence from the father of Korean monochrome, Park Seo-bo, a debt which is clear when viewing his works from a distance. However, it is up close that the works become interesting. The thick impasto-like textures almost recall, in 3D miniaturized form, the fantastic broken landscapes conjured up by Roger Dean in his 1960s posters. However, in terms of the spirit underlying the work Lee’s creative process could not be more different: his surfaces are created by layering hanji paper with charcoal and ink on a linen base; the layers are broken up with a “metallic brush through a strenuous and repetitive movement”1 and the results are like papier maché. And in common with much of Park Seo-bo’s monochrome output, Lee’s work instils a feeling of meditation and stillness.