Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Lee Chul Soo

Translation of text:
They said the vessel was useless because it was bent in the middle.I filled it with water and put a pruned-off twig in it.Suddenly today, I found the flowers bloomed.Ah, the vessel is pretty: it is perfect.

Translation of text:
Early in the spring, the dandelion has not yet blossomed. The mind already sees its spores flying away.

Translation of text:
Dandelion's Night Sky Today the whole universe seems to exist only for you.

Almost every Korean is familiar with his pieces. His woodcuts are often found in books and magazines, as more than two hundreds of his pieces have been used as illustrations. His art reflects significant periods of Korean society since 1980. In the 1980s, his work dealt with the social and political problems under military dictatorship. In his works of the 1990s, he sways towards Buddhist pictures to express the miraculous world of meditation. He also employs a traditional style called wenren-hua, a Neo-Confucian style of painting influenced by Zen Buddhism, liberally engraving simple lines on woodprint. The woodcuts also feature poetic texts. This unique style combines traditional aesthetics of woodprint. His art discloses the secrets of life and the universe in an unexpectedly refreshing way. from here and here

Lee Chul Soo now lives with his wife on a small rice farm in rural Korea. He grows most of his own food, and fills his days with farming, writing poetry and making prints by hand in the traditional way. The artist’s woodcuts, characterized by laconic prose, reflect his life as a farmer, Zen practitioner and poet-artist. His themes express a deep respect for nature, family and a quiet, contemplative way of life.His poems, both visual and verbal, speak to all people. Lee Chul Soo, in his simple forms and words, expresses universal messages that are beyond boundaries or borders.
At the beginning of the academic year I was luckily enough to be able to employ a new assistant/art technician, having really struggled with the previous incumbent I decided to ask around and find one by word of mouth. This process has often payed huge dividends, all three of the girls childminders were found via this process and they were excellent and so it was with Helen. My criteria was that it had to be someone with a really bad OCD, because whilst I appear to keep a relatively organised house I am useless at work, I work in complete chaos, which at times can feel quite over whelming. So Helen arrived and she is like a whirling dervish, she does not stop and she MAKES me make decisions. The result is acres of new space and a slowly clearing backlog of paper, books and journals either sent for jumble, recycling or back to the house. During a big push yesterday I found 2 boxes of jewellery one which contained my engagement ring! the other a really valuable Whitby Jet bracelet, and then I found some very old, but really beautiful old calendar's that my father had sent from Korea when he worked there. I loved these calenders so much I would just keep using them year after year, but eventually they vanished when we moved. But we are now reunited and I really want to frame them.
They are from a very popular wood cut artist called Lee Chul Soo and what makes them even more special is the text. The marriage of image and text is perfect. I just wish I could go and get some more.


materfamilias said...

These are wonderful -- I'm assuming the translation appears elsewhere in the calendar (perhaps on the reverse of the page?), or did you have the text translated? (or are you fluent in Korean?)

Not sure if they're quite as wonderful as your assistant, though. I'd love one of those.

Jon said...

I am posting this to Buddhist Art News. I noticed that, although the artist lives a simple life as a rice farmer, his prints are selling in galleries for hundreds of dollars. I am always curious about Buddhist arts working in the artworld, the most obvious question being: does he tithe? and why involve a gallery system at all?

Thanks for the post,

Jon C.

La Belette Rouge said...

I could use that second image and text. Profound simplicity that is hard to live by.

Happy you found them, your jewels and that jewel of an assistant.

indigo16 said...

The text is translated into English on the calendar, I think because he is so marketable but also because a lot of stationary in Korea features English writing. It is for them almost a second language.
Hands off Helen, she's mine!

Anonymous said...

I found out this and read through. I delivered your story to Lee Chul Soo. He is preparing his 3rd Seattle exhibit at Davidson Gallery (7th~29 August, even he can not personaly provide Gallery Lecture at the site this time.
Please give me an e-mail, if you can jaheelee@dreamwiz.com

Lee, Jahee, a close friend of Chul Soo