Lee Jin Woo — Vers le calme — Towards Calm


Drawing, painting

Lee Jin Woo
Vers le calme — Towards Calm

Past: September 5 → October 31, 2015

When listening, one can hear the silence, the snow falling and the slow floating of clouds. It is a question of availability. If one takes the time to look, to look again, to let go, far, inside a work by Lee Jin Woo, the silence of an enlarged space, of an extended time can also be heard…


These works are born from an essential need: the artist’s desire to merge with the matter, with nature, in the “Being”; to disappear. To succeed, he works to a point where it becomes a way of living; his work is a form of meditation, a way to let himself be absorbed in order for something to maybe emerge. Far from concepts and programs: working for the artist equals searching.

In a brilliant essay to be published, Philippe Filliot writes about Lee Jin Woo: “Action and contemplation, gentleness and violence, effort and grace, raw matter and spiritual life, all these opposites coincide in the alchemic crucible of his “grand oeuvre.”


In 2011, the artist was going through a period of intense doubt as he was struggling with a monumental painting where a crowd of figures proliferated. He remembered that, at the beginning of the eighties, soon after he moved to Paris, in a period of material and artistic distress, his only food — small white beans — had sprouted in a bowl… To see nature continue its own course when he was himself in a state of despair triggered new inspiration. Lee Jin Woo then “buried” the crowd in his painting — and his doubt with it — under a silent and obscure mass of black charcoal. In parallel, he sowed grass seeds on a big canvas covered with Hanji. A splendid lawn grew and that work represented the living and luminous counterpoint to the static wall of charcoal. The ensemble — walls of doubt, symbolic staircase motifs, salvific grass patches — were the components of the major exhibition that Wall (2012) became.

Towards calm

In 2014, By the wind the light — the artist’s fourth exhibition at the Galerie Maria Lund — suggested the imminent arrival of a renewal. It is now manifest: Lee Jin Woo’s work has reached a state of fullness. His creations — between painting and relief — vibrate with luminosity; thinness and delicacy meet rough matters and manners. The viewer is free to receive the gift of effort and time that the artist offers him, free to follow, to let himself be absorbed as well in this quest for a bigger dimension inscribed in the strata of matter. Thus the spectator is carried along inside, without ever being able to completely apprehend the space given to him. Noli me tangere… but you can follow me.

Spontaneously, we call these works “landscapes”. Contemplation landscapes, made of organic matters (Hanji paper, charcoal, pigments, ink) that have re-become nature and turned into vectors of transcendence.

Being oneself

In Korea, during the post-war years emerged a “school” of Korean contemporary artists, Dansaekhwa (“School of white”) or the Korean Monochrome Movement. These artists tried to set up a bridge between the country’s cultural history and Western contemporary movements. Lee Jin-Woo belongs to the next generation. Like the Dansaekhwa artists, he felt the need to reconnect with Korean culture after the country’s dramatic decades. However, if his work shows formal similarities with this movement (tri-dimensionality and the use of Hanji paper), Lee Jin Woo neither claims anything political nor carries concept. His work is personal; that one of person who left in order to look for and find a way to breathe. It is his breathing that his works carry.


Lee Jin Woo (born in 1959) regularly exhibits in Korea, China and Europe. Towards calm (vers le calme) will be his fifth solo show at the Galerie Maria Lund after those in 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2014. In 2006, the Galerie Manes in Prague welcomed a big exhibition of his work. Recently, the artist has been a visiting professor at the Sichuan Fine Art Institute in China to share his views on contemporary art. As this year celebrates Korea in France, the artist has been selected to participate in the exhibition Seoul-Paris-Seoul at the Cernuschi museum in Paris.

Publication of a catalog with an essay by Philippe Filliot. Edition supported by the Centre Culturel Coréen

  • Opening Saturday, September 5, 2015 5 PM → 8 PM
Maria Lund Gallery Gallery
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48, rue de Turenne

75003 Paris

T. 01 42 76 00 33 — F. 01 42 76 00 10


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Tuesday – Saturday, noon – 7 PM
Other times by appointment Spring 2020 : By appointment only

The artist