Lee Kun-Yong (b. 1942) is one of the most influential figures in the Korean avant garde movement and continues his provocative practice in diverse media such as performance, video, sculpture and installation. Known as one of the fathers of Korean performance art, Lee was one of the founding members of the influential Korean artist group Space and Time (ST Group) and a leading member of the Avant-Garde (AG Group) artist group. Lee's oeuvre starts from the fundamental questions on the essence of art. His explorations attempt to find this essence and its existence through perpetual experiments with the body and the space where works are exhibited and the relation between the works and the viewer. In this regard, Lee questioned how objects in certain situations can be altered to enter into a relation with the artist, the space and the viewer. His performative practice contemplates this balance between the natural world and human action and the number of permutations that can exist between the two.
It is for this reason that the artist’s works hovering over the space between painting and performance are interesting as each painting is the result of physical processes. While many painters sought to expand the medium of painting, Lee questioned traditional notions by placing himself in various positions in relation to the canvas with the resulting output a trace of the conditions of his body and its trajectories. In his major work series, The Method of Drawing, the artist stands at the back of a canvas and make drawings on the front, or in the alternative stands adjacent to the canvas moving his arms to create heart shape structures using acrylic paint. These Method of Drawing works are thus traces of his movements and trajectories, but not intentional works. Lee adopts a completely different method of drawing where the body becomes an autonomous component of a work.
While his performative gestures were ephemeral many of his works are documented in photos and videos works or in memories. In this way, the artist seeks to exploit the connection between life and art thus creating different uses of the traditional exhibition space thereby relaying to the viewers that art is in existence in even the most mundane of everyday activities.
Lee participated in the Paris Biennale (1973) and the São Paulo Biennale (1979). He held his first retrospective exhibition at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) in 2014 and recently opening a solo exhibition at the Busan Museum of Art (2019) and Daegu Museum of Art. His works are in the permanent collection of the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Korea, Seoul Museum of Art, Korea, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea, Daegu Museum of Art, Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Tate London and the Rachofsky Collection.
이건용(b.1942)은 1960년대 후반부터 ‘Space and Time 미술학회 (ST)’를 이끌고, ‘AG (아방가르드)’그룹에 주도적으로 참여하며 당대의 전위적이고 실험적인 흐름의 최전선에 서있었다. 이건용의 작품은 ‘예술이란 무엇인가’에 관한 근원적인 물음에서부터 출발한다. 또한 미술의 본질이 무엇이며 어디에 존재하는가에 대한 물음을 작가의 끊임없는 실험을 통해 그의 ‘신체’와 작품이 전시되는 ‘장소’, 그리고 그것을 바라보는 관람객에게로 이어지는 ‘관계’를 통해 보여주고 있다. 이처럼 이건용이 지속적으로 탐구했던 가장 중요한 주제는 ‘신체’와 ‘장소’, 그리고 ‘관계’라고 볼 수 있으며, 그의 작품을 통해 신체와 장소는 서로 공존하여 그 존재의 의미를 지니게 된다는 것에 주목해야 한다.
이건용은 파리 비엔날레(1973), 상파울루 비엔날레(1979)에 참여했다. 그의 첫번째 회고전은 2014년 국립현대미술관 서울에서 개최된 바 있다. 삼성미술관 리움, 국립현대미술관 서울, 서울시립미술관, 미국 달라스의 라코프스키 컬렉션과 영국 런던의 테이트 갤러리를 포함한 다양한 미술 기관과 갤러리에 그의 작품이 소장되어 있다.