This painter has been capturing the essence of the history, nature and people of Jeju in splendid realist fashion since he moved to the island in 2010. His portraits of haenyeo and women at work in the fields are truly stunning – they perfectly capture everyday scenes of the island’s affable, hardworking halmeoni (할머니 : grandmas – the elderly women of Jeju who invariably have an indominitable spirit and truly impressive work ethic). Mr. Lee has done a series of paintings on the unique Jeju horses known here as Jejumal (제주말), and has depicted Halla Mountain, oreums, and coastal and village scenes, among other subjects.
Many of his paintings are done on a grand scale, including truly impressive portraits of women he interviewed about their experiences during the tragic events of the late 1940s and early 1950s known collectively as “4.3” – Sasam. Mr. Lee has a deep sensitivity to the horrors of war, and many of his paintings depict its victims and perpetrators in a highly realistic yet imaginative style that forces the viewer to think deeply about the role of individuals in causing mass suffering. His large-scale, striking paintings of forest scenes were inspired by his reflection upon the trauma experienced by the people of Jeju during 4.3.
This painter’s body of work includes pieces done in different styles on a variety of subjects dating back to the beginning of his career in the 1980s. You can watch interviews with the artist and see more of his work in these videos: