‘Once I am painting, I become an arm that paints. My hand is the extension of my brain and I stop thinking. My work is intuitive.’ – Lee Jin Woo
A sensitive layering of Eastern and Western influences, Jin Woo’s work uses the traditional Korean Hanji paper as the foundation for his compositions. Carefully building layer upon layer of Hanji paper, he combines organic materials such as Indian ink, charcoal, earth, even volcanic ash to create dense, richly textured monochromatic paintings which resonate with an inner calm and timelessness. Inextricable from the work itself – ‘my painting has integrated with the Korean paper’ says Jin Woo, the Hanji paper becomes a vital element in Jin Woo’s compositions. Drawing, painting, hitting or flicking pigment onto the paper Jin Woo repeats the process, building up each layer of Hanji paper until some elements are buried and others are left exposed. The result is a highly three dimensional work that engages the viewer in a rich dialogue between surface and depth.
Referencing the legacy of Korean Dansaekhwa painting, his paintings share the monochromatic colour palette and emphasis on materiality and “repeatability” of the movement whilst also defining a new visual language. His deep respect for traditional Korean materials as well as the space this opens up for new a new wave of Korean art unites him with leading Father of Dansaekhwa painting Park Seo-Bo whom he interviewed recently.
Born in Seoul in 1959, Jin Woo studied at Sejong University before moving to France in 1986 where he attended the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He currently works between France and Korea and has participated in major international art fairs such as Art Brussels, ASIA NOW and Art Miami. Gaining increasing recognition internationally, he was the subject of a recent monograph published in 2016 by Actes Sud and his work was recently acquired by the prestigious Musée Cernuschi in Paris.