Lee Seung Jio (1941-1990) pursued a strict world of geometric abstractionism which was almost unprecedented in the Korean scene of the 1970s and 1980s. He was one of the founders of the Origin School in the early 1960s that responded to the turmoil of post war Korea with system based abstraction. The artist is most known for his depiction of pipes which are, in fact, exercises in the composition of bars. Spanning vertically or horizontally, the bars are formed by spraying pigment in varying gradations. The pigment is darkest at the top of the bar and fades as it reaches the bottom, creating the illusion of a cylinder. And though his work originated from the negation of representation, the recurring image of pipes seems to be a return to representation whether the artists had originally intended this or not.
Lee’s compositions varied in focus with some emphasizing the metallic nature, or others alternating the cylinders or playing with order. The effect is very cold, but tight and densely structured with the works being expressions of Lee’s confident method.
Many people today recognize Lee’s career work for his steadfast, even stubborn, adherence to the same path. His reputation stands out all the more for his consistency in the face of extreme shifts and vicissitudes. In this way, his relatively short career proved a shining example of logic and perseverance in a Korean contemporary art world that was relatively nascent and lacked tradition.
Lee’s works are in the collections of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, Ho-Am Art Museum (Samsung Museum of Art) Yongin, Seoul Museum of Art, Deutsche Bank Collection, and the Hong-Ik University Museum.