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Friday, June 07, 2013
No. 42

Jaehyo Lee’s Sculpture Lotus To Join Esteemed List

NYC Parks & Recreation and CYNTHIA-REEVES Projects, in cooperation with the Union Square Partnership, are pleased to debut LOTUS, by Seoul-based artist, Jaehyo Lee, in New York City’s Union Square Park. Located at the park’s south eastern triangle, the exhibition will be on view May through October 2013. This is the gallery’s second public art exhibition with Parks’ Art in the Parks program, the first being Jonathan Prince’s G2V in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

Jaehyo Lee exhibits internationally, with recent works included at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; the Saatchi Gallery, London; and the Sungkok Museum, Korea, among others. LOTUS follows Lee’s signature use of Korean big-cone pine. For this work, the artist meticulously carved, shaped, and burned the individual wood elements that are attached to a steel armature that stretches 12 feet high.

Lee’s works emphasize his materials’ essential nature and inherently complex texture. The artist says, “Those who make a hard living may be the ones who make this world a beautiful place. I certainly do not have the power to create ‘beauty’. I just hope to reveal the beauty in what is usually seen but not noticed. If one looks closely, one sees how beautiful simple elements can be.”

Often minimalistic, his typically monumental work centers on circular motifs and issues of gravity. The trajectory of his current work reveals Lee’s refined approach to nature, muse to his ideological and spatial concerns.

Of the artist’s work, art critic Jonathan Goodman wrote in Sculpture Magazine, “Allowing the materials to speak to him, [Lee] builds self-contained worlds that mysteriously communicate with their outer surroundings...Texture is deeply important to Lee, who emphasizes the façade of the wood, crosscut and planed to reveal the character of the grain. The surface thus reveals the character of its making, becoming indicative of the creative process and holding interest by itself.” (Sculpture Magazine, The Possibilities of Nature, May, 2009)

Lee’s sculptures have caught the attention of international audiences, including the recent viewers of Saatchi Gallery’s summer exhibition, Korean Eye, which premiered during the London 2012 Olympic Games, and originated at the Museum of Arts and Design in 2011 – 2012. His conspicuous use of natural materials and steel remain his primary media, including hardwoods, bamboo, and leaves. The artist has gained a reputation for innovative sculpture, in both functional and non-functional approaches, and has been the subject of numerous auction highlights, including the recent Sotheby’s New York private sale, Hunters & Gatherers.

Lee graduated from Hong-Ik University in 1992, and is the prizewinner of the Hankook Ilbo Young Artists Award in 1997; the Osaka Triennial Award in 1998; the Kim Sae-Jung Award in 2000; the Sculpture in Woodland Award in 2002; and the Japan Hyogo International Competition Award in 2004. His work is included in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea; Hyogo Prefecture Museum of Art, Japan; Busan Metropolitan Art Museum, South Korea; and the Osaka Contemporary Art Center, Japan. Most recently, his work was included in the Museum of Art and Design’s inauguration exhibition, Second Lives, and was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Montgomery, AL. An upcoming solo retrospective at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington, is scheduled for 2015.

Jaehyo Lee has exhibited with CYNTHIA-REEVES since 2008. CYNTHIA-REEVES Projects wishes to thank Mike De Paola, whose sponsorship made this exhibition possible. CYNTHIA-REEVES Projects is a forum for off-site and collaborative projects done in concert with partner galleries and non-profit organizations, including museum exhibitions and other platforms that bring their artists’ works to the attention of a broader audience. Due to their strong focus on sculptural works, they are actively involved with public art projects in the United States and abroad, helping to facilitate installations of large-scale works in the public domain.

NYC Parks & Recreation’s Art in the Parks program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks. For more information visit

The Union Square Partnership (USP) is a private, not-for-profit, community-based organization responsible for the revitalization of the 14th Street-Union Square neighborhood. USP’s mission is to improve the quality-of-life for the district’s residents, businesses, and visitors, by providing public safety, sanitation, marketing and business development services, as well as investing in the beautification and maintenance of Union Square Park. USP also conducts a host of free events for the public, including volunteer days, networking opportunities and “Summer in the Square,” a weekly event series in the park. For more information, visit

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