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Byungku Lee

b. 1947 Seoul, Korea

B.F.A., College of Fine Arts, Hong-Ik University, Seoul, Korea

1989- Present    Member of 3640 Jae-ll Rotary Club
1983- Present    Judge of Korea Industrial Artist’s Association
1979- Present    President of YeKongBang
1979-1981      Member of Korea Interior Designer’s Association
1976- Present    Member of Korea Industrial Artist’s Association
1974-Present    Member of Korea’s Artist’s Association
1972- Present    Member of Hong-Lim Association

Selected Exhibitions and International Art Fairs
2016    LA Artshow, Able Fine Art NY, Los Angeles, US
2015    Solo Exhibition of Byungku Lee, Able Fine Art Seoul, Seoul, Korea
2011   Metal Craft Exhibition, YeKongBang Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2011   Breathing Metalism Exhibition, Seoul Design Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2009   Invitation Exhibition by Busan Design Foundation, Busan, Korea
2008   Invitation Exhibition, KINTEX (Korea International Exhibition Center), Seoul, Korea
2007   Breathing Metalism Exhibition, Seoul Design Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2007   Good Friends Gallery, Seoul, Korea
2004   China SimYangRyo Art School, China
2003   Korea Design Industrial Art/Culture, France
2002   Turkey-Korea Embassy, Turkey
1988   Korea-Japan Interchange Design-Formative Arts, Japan
1982, 1980   Woodcraft Three-People Exhibition, Seoul, Korea
1976-present   Korea Artist’s Association, Seoul, Korea
1974-present   Busan Designer’s Association Foundation, Busan, Korea
1972-present   Korea Craft Designer’s Association, Seoul, Korea
1972-present   Hong-Lim Association

1972   Special Choice Award of Korea Industrial Art Exhibition Fair
1971   President’s Award of Korea Industrial Art Exhibition Fair
1970   Award of Korea Industrial Art Exhibition Fair
1970   Committee Award of Korea Industrial Art Exhibition Commerce & Industry
1968-1974   Award of Korea Industrial Art Exhibition (1968, 1969, 1974)
1968-1977   Award of Korea Arts Exhibition (1968, 1969, 1970, 1975, 1976, 1977)

* Review

The Patented Art _ Breathing Metalism

Kim, Young Ho Art Critic | Art Historian

A phenomenon, intensified in the current art world is the fusion of genres and the utilization of diverse methods. The boundary between industrial production and sculpture, and design and painting has fallen down, and it is now more common that an artist combines various mediums and methods to create an artwork. The interest toward genre fusion and combination is a product of the changes of public orders in 1960s. From the perspective of art realm, the pure intrinsic in modem art emerged after pop art has lost its effect Although this genre breakdown phenomenon confused classical arc concepts, it revived the nature of dynamic art, and also contributed to close adhesion of art to life.

In this case of Mr. Lee, the barrier between practical art and fine art has broken down, and the use of dynamic methods and mediums is well represented in his artworks, not only within the current ones, but also within the past ones exhibited in Korea National Art exhibition and, Korea National Industrial Art Exhibition in 1970s. Even within the framework of practical use, the aesthetic value is strongly displayed through the structure, material, and space sense. His several three dimensional pieces are as distinctive as sculpture, and even in somewhat less numbered flat artworks, audiences recognize its artistic quality as well as decorative art. He further succeeded in the realm of environmental formative art with his extraordinary artistic sense.

The fusion of genres and dynamic methods of forming within Mr. Lee’s artworks contribute to strengthening his hidden passion for unrestricted expression and artistic ability. This is why his past works imply the liberalism through the titles and methods. The first, his title has no limitation, ranged from objects in nature such as a tree branch a flower to an abstractive figure. Even in method wise he did not limit himself to take advantage of wood, metal alone or have a synergetic effect of stone and metal through either a welding process or a laser cutting technique. Ultimately he resulted in inventing a metal transforming method with air pressure.

The series of pressured metal works in this exhibition is what Mr. Lee would like the viewers to pay most attention to, because after all this invention is what has provoked his hidden desire and encouraged him to open a gallery after the 30 years of silence. When double-layered metals and welded edges meet an air compressor, it becomes expanded like a balloon, and transforms into a pillow or a cushion the power of an air compressor that transforms a metal with a thickness of 1.6mm into a thickness of a paper surpasses our imagination and expectation. With this technique, the artist himself manufactured cubic shaped or chair shaped artworks, and continued further experimentation by broadening his range with a production of a traditional wrapping-cloth formed flat piece.

Evaluating air pressured art pieces in this exhibition in terms of title, whether it is inspired by an animal, a face, the nature or by a spiral, cubic, wavy abstractive figure, the artist carries on his creativity even in naming a title. His intention of applying a new theme to his art resulted in producing a wine table, a gate, furthermore a musical instrument such as a guitar or a Gayageum, a Korean classic musical instrument In his work process, the air compressor not only expands the metal, but also fortifies its shape and structure. This process is equivalent to the scientific method of how the nature transforms an ostrich egg.

Mr. Lee’s metal process brings out diverse views toward its aesthetic analysis. The most noticeable analysis among them is what is called “visual lightness in heavy metals", which confuses the classical analysis of mechanism. In fact, contrary to die heavy feeling of metals, the lightness, resulted from this process offers visual enjoyment to the audiences. The weight of stainless steel and a metallic plate happens to be distorted in this air-compressing process, and becomes blended with this ductile quality that such an aluminum foil consists of. This third accidental factor in the whole procedure adds more excitement into the analysis. In order to intensify the interrelationship between the lightness and heaviness, he manages to generate a new strategy of surrounding the artwork with a stone or a rock that is covered with an iron net structure.

Another way to interpret his metal process technique is named, “contingent and variable image of metal surface". Double layered metals air expansion is an accidental phenomenon derived from another causal of particular metal surface distortion. Metamorphosis happens to be witnessed even in the case initiated with an already cubic shaped metal. In the instance of choosing stainless steel in the air expansion, this metamorphosed surface becomes to have a mirror effect of reflecting the surrounds. This is a very interesting phenomenon because depending on where this artwork is placed, it would contain images of other objects as well on its surfaces. This mirror quality of the artwork possesses distinctive energy that may be used as a tool to interconnect between art and viewers.

As seen so far, visual lightness and the accidental variability, derived from Mr. Lee's work technique represent a new meaning in the world of art. This lightness and variability are qualities that were restrained in the era of modernism. However the act of accepting these qualities back into the artwork explains the modified standard on art criticism, and this standard an art critic pleasantly to Mr. Lee’s works is the true outcome of his continuous tenacity and effort. Without the full understanding of materials and controlled operation, this whole metal air comprising procedure would not have been invented in the first place. Even though Mr. Lee decides to present this technique in public now, he has been using this technique for more than 10 years so far. Especially the property to expand the metal with the solar heat is discovered in the process of welding square metal engraving pipes. In the end, his enduring effort is compensated with the government patent on his invention.

From the marketing perspective, Mr. Lee's works are patented art. This patent named, "aesthetic metamorphosis of metal by air compression” protects his works against copyright infringement The reason for the artist to hold a patent implies how easy it is for others to imitate his works. All he needs in the whole complete work process is the air compressor. However as previously stated, to accomplish this invention he needed long life experiences and experimentations with metals, and the government apparently agreed on this.

The implication within an artwork can be different, depending on viewers. Not only due to space and time, but also to the viewer's intellectual background and experiences, the meaning within the art piece could be controversial. Nevertheless when the quality of work is extraordinary, viewers hold a consistent comment Mr. Lee’s works surpass the simplicity of visual lightness and accidental variability, and carries the potential to extend into other art fields as well. And this potentiality is the outcome birthed from the course of dissolving the practical art into the fine art. When his liberal attitude and manner toward the formative arts draw a link to contemporary life, the value created in his art will be further recognized.


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