“Land art encompasses everything – wind, birds, smell, touch. And my work doesn’t exist until I find it” – Van der Merwe
Childhood and Education
Strijdom van der Merwe is a South African land artist. Growing up as a young boy on a farm just outside of Johannesburg, Strijdom was always taken by the beauty of nature and the magnificence of the sprawling landscape. The artist graduated with BA in Fine Arts from the University of Stellenbosch in 1984. He later received a scholarship to study printmaking at the Hooge School Voor de Kunsten in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Between 1993 and 1995, he taught Computer Graphics at the University of Stellenbosch before enrolling at The Academy of Art & Design in Prague, Czech Republic. Soon after, he went on to become the artist-in-residence at The Kent Institute of Art and Design, Canterbury, the UK.
Jaehyo Lee – 0121-1110=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.
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. 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.
“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.”