Spring Days

婆娑(Doctor of Korean Literature)

In each of Lee Heechun's paintings, there exists a dreamlike flower garden where black horses roam among flowers and butterflies. Female bodies enjoy the scene shyly. Women hiding among those beautiful and warm flowers and brisky animals seek to grasp the outer world of recognition together with the butterflies. However, there are no gardeners' delicate touches to be felt in the flower garden where flamboyant and dazzling spring sunlight plays. There are no traces of labour to do the weeding, nor the concept of landlord in his paintings as if the dreamy flower garden were grown by nature. It's just as if the flowers bloom in time, and butterflies visit them naturally. And the living things hiding in the shadows of flowers peek out into the world as though they have been the like since the beginning of the world. What maintains the flower garden is only the glances from the outer world or of voyeurism. Likewise, all the scenes are stretched in so complete a silence that they are likely to give us the feeling of being monitored or even confined in a prison.

In these respects, the Buddha's head in this exhibition, which appeared for the first time in his paintings, is quite unfamiliar. Further, the nonchalant feast of primary colors in his art pieces, which fill the Buddha's head, urges us to tilt our head for a moment. What does it intend to show us? Is it the painting of the first spring outing of a truth-seeker who just finished a thousand year meditation facing the wall in the deep cave of a snow-covered mountain? Above his Buddha's head, which is made up of letters, butterflies fly with great flaps of their wings. Like practicing giving up avarice, the Buddha in his paintings is fully filled with beautiful colors leaving no empty spaces. The Buddha, painter Lee depicted, strolls on the scenes of spring days. Might it not be that His deeply accumulated karma is resolved into each petal of those beautiful flowers? However, is it appropriate to think of Buddha in those spring days?

Spring days are beautiful since they are so short. Thus, they are as much sad as they are beautiful. The sorrow we feel in spring days is closely related to that of the moment when early seniors begin to realize that life is a kind of a sloppy spring fantasy. And the sense of regret in spring days could be far more extreme to those who dream to be in a Butterfly Dream. However, Buddha's mind is there where spring days are so short, and in the momentary beauty there lies eternal truth. So those who can weep bitterly for the falling cherry petals can readily wait until the next spring when the cherry blossoms beautify our world again. This is the smile of Buddha we meet in His own elegance in spring days. What makes spring days enjoyable is Buddha's mind. The reason people cannot enjoy spring days as they are is due to an obsession of the things afloat and a fear of losing things. However, it is absolutely true that spring days are beautiful, because they are so short. Those who understand the essence of falling flowers which readily bloom only to fall in so short a time will attain the Buddha's mind in itself. It is because spring days are the lover of eternality.

However, how many springs should we spend to arrive at the level of Buddhist magnificence which fills Buddha's head to the full? For butterflies to fly above the Buddha's head full of letters' fragrance as beautifully as they are in the paintings, how many false recognitions of oneself should be corrected? For those who cannot face the truth or facts which are so clear, spring days are cold. Thus, people not only should put down their passion to arrive at the truth, but should also be silent while giving up the confidence of their lives in those spring days. Without this, the Buddha's magnificent world would not exist. There will not be a spring day where all people can not reveal their original individual characters. We should not forget the truth that as there are seeds kept even in the frozen land, we should harvest our own confidence and obsession into fertilizer for our own blossoming. However, this sentiment should be forgotten when spring days come. Just enjoy the elegance of spring even when you are in deathly agony. Forget the reason why you cannot enjoy spring days as well as the reason why you enjoy them. In those days, just be grateful for the fact that you breathe in this world. From this elegance, Buddha's merciful smile rises.

이희춘의 花樣年華 Lee HieChun’s ‘ The most beautiful moment in life ’

신귀백 (영화평론가, 감독) GwiBack Shin(movie critic and film director)

 프롤로그 사랑. 누구나 한번쯤은 멜로드라마가 찾아온다. 드라마에는 끝이 있다. 끝 뒤에도 시간은 흐른다. 그리고 그 때가 화양연화(花樣年華)였다고 쉽게 말한다. ‘꽃처럼 아름다운 시절’이라고. 나아가 ‘옛 사랑의 추억은 아름답다’라고. 그러나 화양연화는 단순한 추억을 넘어선다. ‘그 때 그랬더라면’ 하는 후회, 아니 ‘가지 못한 길’에 대한 감정의 여운, 허무적 나르시즘 같은 것이 포함되어야 할 개념이다. 그래서 두고 온 것들을 복원하고 싶다. 그러나 그 시절과 그 내밀한 감정을 복원하기 쉽지 않다. 흐르는 물에 두 번 손을 담글 수는 없으니. 하여, 필름으로 남기고 스크린으로 플레시백하며 때로는 돌려감기를 해 본다. 스크린의 재생은 그 때 뿐이지만 벽에 걸린 그림은 다르다. 시간을 부린 장자는 각종 동물을 끌어다 비유로 사용했다. 세상의 수고로운 짐을 진 이희춘은 나이프로 물감을 부린다. 하늘을 나는 새와 물고기를 데려와 즐거움과 괴로움, 때로는 분별을 이야기 한다. 깊은 밤 나비로 살아가며 캔버스에 나이프를 들고 있는 이희춘의 그림을 둘러보자.

Prologue Love. Everyone has romantic moment once in their life. But this moment has its end. After the end of that moment, time goes by. They simply say that it was the most beautiful moment in their life like a splendid flower, and old love is beautiful. But the most beautiful moment in life exceeds simple memory. It is a concept implicating the regret ‘if it were’ or the lingering sentiment and the futile narcissism on the way they didn't go. We want to take back what we left behind. But it is impossible to go back to that moment and feel the same secret feeling again. We cannot turn back time. So we film to flashback through a screen and sometimes rewind it. The scene on a screen stays only for a moment but a painting on the wall is different. Chuang-tzu used all kinds of animals as metaphors. Heechun Lee, who are weary and burdened, handles paints with his knife. He expresses the joy, pain, and discrimination with fish and bird flying the sky. Let’s take a look at the works of Hiechun Lee who draws a painting with a knife living like a midnight butterfly.


벼와 밀을 심는 사람이 있다. 누구는 과일나무를 심고 또 누구는 작은 땅에 꽃밭을 만든다. 허나 열흘 붉은 꽃은 없다. 그래서 꽃이 진다고 슬퍼하는 사람을 위해 이희춘은 붓과 나이프로 꽃을 심는다. 쌀과 빵을 담을 그릇을 만들 듯, 이희춘은 화폭에 그릇을 안치고 꽃들을 담는다. 여러 꽃들이 하나의 꽃처럼 피어있는 수반에 담긴 꽃들은 아름다움을 넘어 먹고 싶을 지경이다. 이번 화양연화 전(展)은 오래된 그릇과 그릇에 담긴 꽃들은 이희춘이 호명(呼名)한 꽃차례다. 유년의 뜨락에 수국(水菊)이 핀다. 라일락이라 불리는 봄을 알리는 수수꽃다리에는 봄 아닌 봄을 기다린 오랜 기다림이 있다. 네 시면 피는 분꽃과 사루비아 깨꽃, 게으른 팬지, 아침에 피었다가 노을보다 먼저 사라지는 잉크색 나팔꽃이 화채처럼 담겨있다. 다 마당에 있던 꽃이다. 엄마랑 누나랑 함께 보던. 더 있다. 초록의 잎들을 버린 말라가는 맨드라미 꽃밭이 보인다. 눈이 올 때 까지 피어있는 붉음을 버린 맨드라미는 드라이플라워처럼 추억으로 말라간다. 거기다 심으면 죄가 되기에 재배할 수 없어 화폭에만 존재하는 양귀비는 과부의 피보다 진하다. 누군가를 부르고 싶다. 내가 그의 이름을 불러 준 것처럼 나의 이 빛깔과 향기(香氣)에 알맞는 누가 나의 이름을 불러다오. 그에게로 가서 나도 그의 꽃이 되고 싶다. -김춘수의 시 「꽃」 중- 이름을 불러 줄 때 꽃이 된다. 베트남, 중국, 일본 아니 서양 어느 나라에도 꽃의 이름을 가진 여인들이 많다. 화, 후에, 릴리, 기쿠 그래서 우리는 사발에 담긴 꽃들을 보며 영화 <화양연화>의 여주인공 장만위를 호명한다. 그녀가 골목길 불빛 아래 입었던 노슬리브 꽃무늬 치파오, 긴 손가락으로 타이프를 치는 여인의 겹동백 무늬의 치파오, 검은색 장미 무늬가 있는 흰색 치파오, 담배연기와 함께 두고 온 줄무늬 치파오를 기억한다. 이희춘, 그의 그림들을 골라 장만위의 원피스에 텍스타일로 올리고 싶다. 다시 입히고 싶다. 그녀가 두고 간 꽃무늬 슬리퍼까지. '꽃피지 못한 청춘'을 재현하는 이희춘이 건네는 꽃다발은 수많은 꽃말들을 만들어낸다. 나보기가 역겨워 가실 때 말없이 꽃을 뿌리는 산화공덕(散花功德)이다. 꽃을 뿌려 덕을 쌓기에 빙수그릇에 담긴 화채 같은 꽃들은 꽃설거지가 필요 없다. 이희춘의 몽유화원에는 바람도 없는데 소리 없이 꽃잎이 진다. 그 꽃잎 화폭에 담겨있으니.

Flower There is a person planting rice and wheat. Someone plants fruits, and the other plants flowers in his small land. But there is no flower that lasts over ten days. For the one who feel sad about falling flowers, Hiechun Lee plants flowers with a brush and a knife. Just like making a bowl for rice and bread, Hiechun Lee brings a flower base into his work. Flowers in a water base are gathered like one flower and they are so beautiful that even appetizing. In this exhibition, the most beautiful moment in life, he is calling the flowers by putting them in the old bases on his canvas. Hydrangea blooms splendidly in the garden of childhood. Lilac, which signals the arrival of spring, means not just spring but a long waiting for spring. Iris which blooms at 4 o’clock, sarubia, scarlet sage, lazy pansy, and morning glory which blooms in the morning and disappears before sunset are all in there like a fruit salad. They are all the flowers that were in the back yard that I used to see with my mother and sister. There are more. We can see withered cockscomb. Green leaves are fallen. Lost its red color just before it snows, cockscomb is fallen arousing old memory like dried flowers. Moreover, poppy which exists only in the paintings is thicker than a widow’s blood. I want to recall someone. Now who will speak my name, one fitting this colour and fragrance of mine, as I had spoken hers So that I may go to her and become her flower. -The poem of Chunsoo Kim, ‘Flower’- Name can be a flower when we speak it. In Vietnam, China, Japan, and the countries in Western, there are many women with flower’s name. Hwa, Hue, Lily, Kiku... Watching the flowers in the base, we recall Su Li-zhen in the movie ‘In the mood for love.’ Her non-sleeves chinese dress with a flower pattern under the streetlight, her camellia pattern dress when she was typing something with her long fingers, white dress with black roses design, striped dress left behind with cigarette smoke... I want to redesign her dresses with his paintings as a textile. I want to redress even her flowery patterned slippers left behind. Hiechun Lee hands over a bouquet creating lots of flower language to reproduce ‘Not bloomed youth.’ It is a bless with flower scattering in silence for the one who left me. The flower in a huge water base doesn’t need any washes as it is a virtue itself. In his flower garden of dreams, flowers are fallen without sound even there is no wind. And the petals are left in a canvas.


이희춘의 화폭은 마스터 숏을 설정하지 않는다. 왜 선형적 시간이 아니니까. 지평선이나 산 능선을 멀리 밀어 올려 황금비를 무시하는 구도. 하늘일까, 물일까? 그 푸름 안에는 오리가 떠 있고 꽃잎이 흘러간다. 그의 그림에는 극적상황이나 과잉된 감정이 없다. 그렇다고 흑백영화로 표현되는 옛날은 아니다. 다만 슬로우 모션으로 흘러갈 뿐. 세밀하고 내밀한 감정은 그렇게 천천히 흘러가는 법이니까. 잘 보자. 피기 직전의 진달래 같고 물갈퀴 같은 세 잎 꽃과 나비가 되기 직전의 그림은 타일로 벽을 조성하고 싶은 질리지 않을 그림들이다. 생략과 절제가 바로 그 원인이다. 초록바탕의 펜으로 휘갈 듯한 쓰다만 편지 같은 그림이 보인다. 연필에 침을 묻혔지만 끝내 다 쓸 수 없는 편지 같은 느낌의 상형을 다 갖지 못한 글씨체의 그림은 새로운 조형이다. 사방연속으로 새겨진 꽃창살무늬의 나무결을 손끝으로 더듬다 보니 옛 목공의 부르튼 손등이 만져질 듯하다 나무에서 빼낸 옹이들이 고스란히 손바닥으로 들어앉았을 옛 목공의 손 거친 숨소리조차 끌 끝으로 깍아 냈을 것이다 결을 살리려면 다른 결을 파내어야 하듯 노모와 어린 것들과 아내를 파내다가 이런! 꽃, 창, 살, 무, 늬 옹이 박힌 손에 붉게 피우곤 했을 것이다 - 박성우의 시 '내소사 꽃창살' - 문채(文綵). 절집 내소사 대웅보전 소박한 문짝과 그 안에 조각된 빗모란연꽃살문 을 단순화한 그림은 매혹적 시공간을 자아낸다. 매일 절에 갈 수 없는 사람이 걸고 싶은 그림이다. 이희춘이 단순화 한 국화꽃살문은 오래된 자개농을 바라보는 개인공간에서 한 발 더 나아간 공간선택이다. 형태를 구부러뜨림으로써 변화하는 것이 버티고 저항하는 것보다 훨씬 나은 이치다. 부드러운 것이 단단함을 이기니까. 상선약수(上善若水)다. 그가 심는 꽃이 바로 그다. 작은 공간에 꽃을 심는 사람 자체가 꽃이다. 땅이 없는 사람은 창틀 위에 꽃을 피워 올린다. 그리고 고양이를 키운다. 또 누구는 좁은 벽에 그림을 건다. 베갯모에 수놓아진 꽃밭이 이희춘의 엄마의 솜씨였다면 그는 화폭에 문양을 심는다. 천수천안(千手千眼)이 없는 세상이기에 우리는 누군가의 손길을 기다리는 것이다. 그 손길이 바로 이희춘의 문양(文樣)인 것. 그의 문양에 등장하는 어릴 때 전을 지지던 진달래꽃, 고향의 봄 유년시절에 봤던 풍경들은 우리가 익히 알던 문양들이다. 화폭에 담으면서 현실과 이상세계를 넘나드는 작품 속 낙타보다 사람이 더 크고 참새와 고양이는 동급이다. 민화에 등장하는 부처님도 계신다. 깊어진 것이다. 부엉이는 깊은 대숲에 날아오른다. 댓잎에 서걱이는 숲. 대나무 숲을 찾는 미네르바의 부엉이 나이프에 발라진 물감이 마르는 시간을 지키는 화가 자신이다. 각진 것이라곤 캔버스의 테두리 뿐. 그의 문양은 부드럽다. 오랜 시간을 견뎌온 몽돌의 문양이다. 이희춘의 그림 한 폭 한 폭이 둘러 싼 그의 화실은 꽃창살의 절집이다.


His painting is not using master shot as time is not a straight line in his world. The composition that pushes up the horizon or ridge of mountain above ignoring the golden ratio. Is it the sky or water? Ducks are floating on and petals flows into the blueness. It is hard to find dramatic scenes or emotional excess in his painting. But it doesn't mean it is like old days depicted in a monochrome film. Merely it flows in slow motion. Delicate and secret emotion slowly flow away like that. See closely. The paintings are like Azalea before bloom and webbed-feet like flower and the moment just before it becomes a butterfly. Since they are never boring, I want to make them as tiles so I can put them on my wall. Ellipsis and moderation are the reason. The pictures are like unfinished letters with green background. Being full with handwriting which is not yet formed, it is a new type of arts which cannot be finished at the end. Touching wood grain with fingertips Engraved all around with flower pattern, I could feel a carpenter’s gnarled hand. Nodes carved from the woods would have taken a seat in their hands instead. Even their rough breaths would have been carved with a chisel. For the grain, nodes need to be cleaned. Carving old mother and younglings and wife, Ah, F, L, O, W, E, R, P, A, T, T, E, R, N. would have bloomed and rosed in their gnarled hand. -Poem of Sungwoo Park, Flower Pattern muntin of Naesosa- Beautiful Coloring. Simplified humble door of Naesosa, a buddhist temple, carved in peony-lotus-pattern, arouses fascinating space time. It is the work for people who can’t go to the temple everyday. Going one step forward, the mum-pattern door frame which is simplified in his work is a better choice than looking at the old closet with mother-of-pearl. It stands to reason that the change with transformation is much better than the resistance holding back. Softness wins hardness. The virtue shall be the water. The flower he plants is himself. The person who plants flower in a small space is a flower himself. The man without land plants flowers in his window frame, and has a cat. Someone else hangs a picture on his narrow wall. If flower garden embroidered on the edge of pillows is a skill of his mother, he plants pattern on a canvas. In the world without eternal life and everlasting peace, we are waiting for someone’s hands. His hand is that pattern. We are familiar with Azalea which was used to be fried as a rice pancake and the hometown landscape from youth implicated in his pattern. Coming and going reality and ideal world, camel is bigger than human, and sparrow is same size with cat in the canvas. There is also Buddha who is frequently referred in folk paintings. It becomes deeper. An owl is flying up from a bamboo grove and bamboo blades whisper. The owl of Minerva is searching for bamboo forest. It is a painter himself who keeps waiting for the paint to dry. In the painting, the only thing that angulated is the edge of canvas. His pattern is soft. It is a symbol of pebble which has endured a long time. Surrounded by his works, his atelier is a buddhist temple with the flower patterned window frame.


자개농을 버릴 수 없다. 엄마가 쓰던 사랑과 욕망의 총화이기에. 어쩔 수 없이 두고 온 시절을 이희춘은 자개 재질의 반짝임을 나이프로 재생해냈다. 우주의 시간을 드러낸 듯한 검은 바탕에 십장생과 장자의 나비인 듯한 시간의 무화는 갈 수 없는 나라에 대한 동경이다. 베어 없애는 나이프가 아니라 마치 캔버스에 도자기의 무늬를 파서 새겨 넣는 작업인 상감(象嵌)의 기법을 발견한다. 근대화의 속도에 빠져 우리가 버리고 온 검은 색 바탕에 분홍으로 핀 꽃은 나이프가 지나가면 어머니의 자개농이 된다. 그래, 이희춘의 그림에는 시간과 공간을 붙드는 힘이 있다. 그 캔버스 아래 말 한 마리가 있어 우리를 저 유년으로 태우고 간다. 평탄하지 않은 옛 언덕 그 말은 고개를 아래로 숙이고 옛날을 생각한다. 어머니 당신은 그 먼 나라를 알으십니까? 깊은 삼림지대를 끼고 돌면 고요한 호수에 흰 물새 날고 좁은 들길에 야장미(野薔薇) 열매 붉어 멀리 노루새끼 마음놓고 뛰어다니는 아무도 살지 않는 그 먼 나라를 알으십니까? - 신석정 시인의 시 ‘그 먼 나라를 알으십니까’ 中 - 남한에서의 작가의 삶은 드라마로 가득 찬, 매혹적이라기보다는 소설적인 시공간이다. 이희춘의 화양연화시절은 민주화와 산업화로 대표되는 질곡의 한국현대사였으니. 그래서 이 질풍노도의 시절을 큰 도(道)나 인의(仁義)로 표현하는 화가들이 있다. 꽃동산에서 유유자적하게 노니는 자세나 무시무공(無時無空) 속의 달관한 듯한 표정은 비판받을 소지가 다분하다. 풍경을 버리고 속도를 향해 달려온 현대사를 표현하는 그들의 도(道) 또한 옳으니 말이다. 추위와 주림의 한 겨울을 견딘 이희춘, 그는 세상의 도에 휩쓸리지 않고 속도를 버리고 꽃을 얻었다. 꽃과 더불어 기쁜 소식을 몰고 올 제비와 봄을 알려줄 나비와 여린 짐승을 화양연화로 표현하는 이희춘의 세계에는 분명 한계가 있다. 넘어서야 할 지점이다. 미안하지만, 하나 더 찌른다. 유머가 있었으면 한다. 아인슈타인의 혀를 쏙 내미는 사진 같은 유머 말이다. 나이프가 지나간 자리마다 온유와 극진으로 꿈속의 꽃밭을 일궈 놓은 이희춘의 캔버스는 아름답다. 입체감이 도드라져 보인다. 누구는 인의로 속박할지 모르지만, 강구연월(康衢煙月) 아닌 동병상련(同病相憐)이라 말하고 싶다. 하염없는 붓질의 시간을 견딘 끝에 자개의 재질로 표현하는 아이디어를 스케일 업 해서 이만큼 왔다. 이제 더 벼텨야 한다. 도는 스스로 그러한 것이니까.

Beautiful Years

I can’t throw away the closet with mother-of-pearl. It is a sum of my mother’s love and desire. The time unwillingly left behind is reproduced as glitters of mother-of-pearl by Hiechun’s knife. With Black Background implicating space time, the ten traditional symbols of longevity and butterflies of Chuang-tzu are the admiration for inapproachable land. We can discover inlaid work from his painting. He uses knife not to cutting off but to carving patterns of potteries on a canvass. When his knife passes by, pink bloomed flowers on the black background become my mother’s closet with mother-of-pearl which were thrown away due to the fast modernization. Yes, his picture has a power to seize the space and time. A horse on a canvas brings us to our youth. Upon old uneven hill, the horse lower its head thinking of old days. Mother Do you know about the land far away? Go round the deep forest, Where the white water bird flying above the quiet lake, Wild brier’s bearing red fruit at a narrow field path, and The young roe deer freely running around, Do you know about the land that no one lives? -Poem of Seokjeong Shin, Do you know about the land far away?- The life of artist in South Korea is more close to novelistic space time rather than a fascinating drama. His most beautiful moment in life is represented by Democratization and Industrialization era that Korea has underwent in the 1980’s. Some of the painters depict this storm and gale of life as a righteousness and humanity. In their point of view, the attitude living in free and easy or philosophical view beyond time and space can be a target of criticism. It is also right to focus on capturing the face of modern society which pursues speed disregarding the scenery. Hiechun Lee, enduring cold and starving winter, has been not swept by the speed and standard justice of the world and gained flower as a result. Along with flowers, he describes the most beautiful moment in life with swallow bringing good news, butterfly signaling spring and young animals. In this sense, his world has limit to overcome. Sorry to say that, but there is one more thing. he lacks humor which can be found in the photo of Einstein sticking out his tongue. His canvas is beautiful. His flower garden of dreams is gently and carefully made by the knife. Solidness is noticeable in his painting. Someone might restrict him with the righteousness. However, his work is not just a peaceful landscape but a sympathy. Bearing endless time of brush strokes, he has achieved this far elaborating his idea: mother-of-pearl texture. Now he will endure more. It is certain to cultivating oneself.


풍경은 달라졌다. 아무리 풍경이 달라졌다 해도 색채와 빛으로 만들어낸 꽃밭을 피워낸 이희춘의 반가운 면을 발견한다. 에고를 버리고 에코로 돌아선 것. 이 세상 주인이 따로 없다. 무위의 생태적 공간. ‘그 나라에 가실 때에는 부디 잊지 마셔요. 나와 같이 그 나라에 가서 비둘기를 키웁시다’라던 신석정 시인이 꿈꾸던 공간 아닌가. 그의 공간을 이루는 꽃과 동물 사물에는 시절의 편애(偏愛)가 있다. 그렇다면 그의 사사로운 친애(親愛)인가. 아니다, 아니다. 우리는 그 시절로 가고 싶기에 그의 그림을 걸고 싶다. 선악과 미추를 버리고 무처선(無處禪)에 빠지고 싶다. (完)


The scenery has been changed. Even scenery has been changed, we are glad to discover his garden full of color and light. That is to say, he abandoned Ego and turn to Eco. There is no owner in the world. Ecological space of idleness. It is exactly same with poet Seokjeong Shin‘s word on the space that he has dreamed of: ‘Please don't forget me when you go to that land. Please come with me together and keep pigeon in the land.’ His favor of old days is reflected in the flower, animal, and things which are forming his space. Then is it a personal favor? No. We would like to keep his work as we want to go back to old days. I want to fall into a trance beyond goodness and badness, beauty and ugliness. (Fin.)

Rough drawing of Non-Active

“Whenever I open the window in my house, the view of hills and streams overwhelms me. At this moment, I feel dizziness and my whole body burnt out. Blue ink is for the mountain far away, black one for the near one. Distance depends on the shading of the ink and the focus of it. The mountains are overlapped pile after pile and curved at every turn.”  

Han Shaogung, won the literary award of Lue Shin in 2007, describes the scenery of his house like this in Sannamsubuk(山南水北). While reading his essay which emphasizes the beauty of space, I can’t draw my eyes from the book because I had encountered the great nature and Chinese arts in 1997.

Even now, Chinese announcement in the bus is more than familiar to me. When I found a Chinese channel on the TV by chance, I lost my mind to look at it. For a while I indulged into the Chinese culture, history, and music. Sometimes I get packing to visit China. In my studio, you can find all the Chinese things such as paper, brush, paints, and ink water container let alone Lue Shin sculpture, the frame of a paper sliding door of Ming dynasty, a clay doll of Ching dynasty. When I encounter Chinese, I walk up to them and start talking them very spontaneously. I never miss the new Chinese movie. All these behaviors and interests became my own exotic precious hobbits.   Earlier this year, I move to downtown in Jeonju from Soyang Wanju where I open my eyes to arts over 13 years. How dare I can compare Wanju to the big mountain of the Eight Trigrams for divination of Han Shaogung who left for the countryside of Hunan province leaving the 30 years of downtown life behind? But Soyang is surrounded by mountains. There are reservoirs and rivers around it to make it spectacle scenery when it rains. 

When I was setting down there 10 years ago, I wondered whether people might think that I’m absurd and whimsical. At that time, I often suffered poverty but the nature helped me manage it. Meditating, I used to roam around the mountains and the fields.

I tried to return to the ordinaries from the era. It was hard to decide to do it. Recently, I have no time to think back and remorse it. There is no limit in admiring and intending the past but I have such a little memory to remember that the habit of reading gets growing. <Sannamsubuk(山南 水北)> which brought me the pleasure of communication this summer made me feel the real freedom in the old downtown. Through the book, which describes the cultural differences, the author experienced himself, between the city and the rural community and how nature and human become unified while looking for the freedom which can’t be enjoyed in the city under the elegant scenary of Palgae, I was happily setting myself in order. Han Shaogung went from the city to the rural. And I moved from the rural to the city. We are contrary to each other in terms of the ordinary life but the power and the generosity of nature led me into the unlimited laziness and helplessness.

I needed a stimulus. I love Jeonju, my hometown. The natural environment makes me love it more. 

Topic of my work is about admiring, longing, loving and returning to nature. I miss the neighborhood under the dyke of Jeonju River, and the red dirt of the round hill behind my neighborhood. Also I miss the fire of jwibulnori which burnt all the stack of straw beside the rice field on the last day of the year, the green wood where I searched for a fourleaf clover in June, and the bright five colors I saw from a funeral bier in the five-colored funeral ode heading for a public cemetery.My studio is in the street which was once the high street in 70’s. Traditional Korean-style house town is not far from here. My studio is located in an old two story house in a market street. I try to have affection for it by gardening and growing some flowers.

The scenery coming through the door of living room wide open is getting familiar to me more and more. There are musk trees stooping slightly with the top of it cut stumpy. Between them are peony and a quite big camellia. Over the trees is the ladder putting on the roof of a junk shop. And the far way sight of Mt. Namgo’s trail is hanging over the ladder. Noise is coming out of the junk shop all the day. When it gets calm, I try to give my ear to it to remember the sound. The dog in my neighborhood barks at every strangers 

Drawing passing by. Peddlers are shouting their pitches through the speakers to lure customers. Strolling around the secluded alley, cleaning up the bird’s shit on the window frames with pleasure, and sometimes searching for the origins of good smell, still I miss the food the grandma living next door passed me over the wall.

I’m not trying to relate these daily things to my artworks. My five senses are already inspired by them. And they are just energy coming though my senses. Today, having the electric pan blow behind me in a sultry weather, I paint to put my affections on this summer into my canvas.

 2009, 8 Lee, hiechun (Doctor of Literature Plastic arts)


My students who came to see me some time ago had set a date to visit the workshop again carrying cleaning outfit as if the shabby and untidy workroom was troubling them. Along with request saying “Wouldn’t it be nice if you used the room organized?”, the five students organized the room neatly and left. After that, the disorganization from ‘order’ came whenever I looked for books and drawing tools. After some time later, I scattered that ‘order’ in my own way. It was because of desolation from ‘consciousness’ (order). Before I get into my work, I never make preparations like setting specific plans on what I would draw or performing esquisse. I’m used to this because I got into habit of it. Though the reason might be because I have a lack of desire to deliver somewhat strong message through my picture, but also because the ‘consciousness’ itself which bounds us to specific and systematic formality is not able to give amusing enjoyment compared to ‘unconsciousness’.

Although there might be differences in the degree of imaginative power among artists, it is impossible to escape from this because each artist has his or her own fence. So I try not to build the fence of my own and enjoy a certain degree of amusement in unplanned work, the ‘impromptu nature’ through unconsciousness. Although the attachment to something called “enjoy” or “must enjoy” might be another fence. It has been about 20 years since I walked one path by holding the brush. While it seems that could be following the form having specific pattern in my own way, such vision still isn’t coming into my eyes. But now, I want to enjoy myself within independent and individual pattern called ‘non-active nature’ rather than the pattern of specific form for pictures. While I also had tendency of having series of subjective and expressive form in my work, the thing it had given me was always just the dissatisfaction. Calling morality the morality already loses its essence. Also, I’m not trying to aim toward expression with repetitive wording for non-active state called “mountain is mountain and water is water” nor trying to gain immense and magnificent realization from ‘Non-Active Nature’ by Lao Tzu which is the latest topic of artistic work. I’m only trying to realize that my existence is very small and insignificant while trying to find the aesthetics of ‘emptying and filling’ from it.

Whether the series of my recent works were influenced by ‘minimal’ or ‘abstraction lyrique’, this fact doesn’t have much significance. But if I were to be little greedy, I earnestly wish that my later works would give out an odor of Zen-like inclination of ancient literary painters. Also, like experimental Korean artists of sixties with predominant informel have always been, I accept and sympathize with their use of brush coming from behavioral style of writing from coincidence and try to find the surface of oriental aesthetics in my own way. Like the recent works use the brush through the most basic movement of line and will of page using black shade, like the nature’s change of four seasons or rise and set of sun and moon which come to us without fail, like the hermit which we the mankind have no choice but to watch with a blank look or enjoy by looking at .. I want to look back at the method of approaching objects at the same sense

Finally, I want to break loose from limitations or sense of burden from the pattern toward a model in order to gain transcending insight and inspiration by making the perception of general model and range of understanding as intuitive aesthetics of ‘non-active nature’. I just want to enjoy the metaphysical reason of going beyond the specific formality toward supernatural or superspatiotemporal things.

Dream, Reading of The Middle path 2008 91