Our top 10: Massive organic sculptures by Jaehyo Lee (이재효)

Jaehyo Lee 이재효 - 0121-1110=193061, 1993, stones
Jaehyo Lee0121-1110=193061, 1993, stones


Jaehyo Lee (b. 1965, Hapchen, South Korea) graduated in 1992 with a BFA from the Hong-Ik University in Seoul. Combining distinct traces of Land Art, Arte Povera and Minimalism Lee´s works cast a questioning eye over the roots of form, its function and its role within the natural world.

Work between modern art and design

Lee´s works willfully play with the oft-contested boundaries between modern art and design, referencing the idealist´s cubes, cylinders and cones as perversions of the chaise longue, the coffee table, the lampshade, and even the humble doughnut.

The beauty of art as a product of labor

Revealing a subtly humorous and unsentimental attitude to nature, what unites these works is a belief that the beauty of art is a product of the labor from whence it comes, whether this be the meticulous carving of larch trunks into the form of a perfect sphere or, equally, the precise bending and sanding of thousands of nails hammered one after another into a hunk of cut lumber.

Artist’s Statement – In his own words

“Until recently, my work has been about combining wood with nails or steel bars and integrating them into geometrical shapes such as spheres, hemispheres, or cylinders. Whenever I did this, one of my problems was to keep the nails and bolts out of sight. Now, on the contrary, I put an emphasis on the nails themselves. I drive countless nails into wood, bend them, grind them, and make them protrude. I then burn the wood, blackening its growth ring records and its natural color. The glittering metallic nails on the black charcoal become ever more conspicuous, and through this process, I draw a picture on wood using nails. Those who make a hard living may be the ones who make this world a beautiful place. I certainly do not have the power to make it beautiful. I just hope to reveal the beauty in what is usually seen but not noticed. It may be a rusty bent nail. If you take a close look at it, however, you’ll find out how beautiful it can be.”
-Jaehyo Lee


Jaehyo Lee 이재효 - Lotus, 2013, Wood (Korean Big Cone Pine), 216 in; 548.6 cm
Jaehyo LeeLotus, 2013, Wood (Korean Big Cone Pine), 216 in; 548.6 cm

Jaehyo Lee 이재효 - 0121-1110=102101, 2002, 350x350x350cm, wood
Jaehyo Lee0121-1110=102101, 2002, Wood, 350x350x350cm

Jaehyo Lee 이재효 - 0121-1110=107041, 520 x 520 x 520 cm, wood, Korean Eye, Saatchi, 2012
Jaehyo Lee0121-1110=107041, 2002, Wood, 520 x 520 x 520 cm, installed at the exhibition Korean Eye, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2012

Jaehyo Lee 이재효 - 0121-1110=114047, 2014, 700x700x700cm, wood
Jaehyo Lee0121-1110=114047, 2014, Wood, 700x700x700cm

Jaehyo Lee 이재효 - 0121-1110=191111, 1991, 300x300x350cm, stone
Jaehyo Lee0121-1110=191111, 1991, Stone, 300x300x350cm

Jaehyo Lee 이재효 - 0121-1110=197073, 1997, 220x220x350cm, stone
Jaehyo Lee0121-1110=197073, 1997, Stone, 220x220x350cm

Jaehyo Lee 이재효 - 0121-1110=194051, 1994, 150x150x150cm, grass
Jaehyo Lee0121-1110=194051, 1994, Grass, 150x150x150cm

Jaehyo Lee 이재효 - 0121-1110=115075, 2015, 560x130x360cm, wood
Jaehyo Lee0121-1110=115075, 2015, Wood, 560x130x360cm

Jaehyo Lee 이재효 - 0121-1110=1110112, 2011, size variable, snow
Jaehyo Lee0121-1110=1110112, 2011, Snow, size variable

All images by Jaehyo Lee/leeart.name unless otherwise noted.

Video: Interview with Jaehyo Lee

14min 49sec

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