Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lee Harin 이하린


Ambiguity is at the core of Lee Harin’s artwork. Visiting an exhibition of his work with him, we discuss the series of porcelain figure busts he has recently completed and we ask if they are portraits of specific people. He replies that one of them is a portrait of a friend in America but that the rest of them are not specific. In fact it is not immediately apparent if the the figures are male or female, Asian or Western. This blurring of distinctions is a purposeful commentary on the roles people assume in their interpersonal relationships. In a written artists statement, Lee Harin explains that his work attempts to explore the subversive nature of desire particularly among those people who assume an ambiguous gender identity. He also feels that his own ambiguity as an artist who has split his time between two cultures and split his creative efforts between different media has allowed him more sympathy with people who choose unorthodox paths.


Following the correct path has always been hard for Lee Harin. Although he grew up in the sympathetic environment of a family of artists, he struggled with the restrictive art teaching in the Korean school system. His struggles culminated with his failure in the rigid art school entrance examination leaving him with a bruised ego and a determination to succeed by another path. He found this successful pathway at the State University of New York at New Paltz where he first encountered clay. Switching from his previous interest in painting he applied himself to mastering the techniques of throwing and hand building. Although he feels that his pottery is still subpar, he has obviously gained a mastery of the subtleties of expressing himself in sculpture. After spending two years at Alfred University and getting his MFA he returned to Korea to do his compulsory military service which he said was much easier than the intense period of work at Alfred.


His transPacific journeys resumed when he went to Philadelphia where he spent two years working at the Clay Studio. The body of work which resulted from his stay in Philadelphia was a distillation of his thoughts regarding the transgressive roles that people assume in their relations with others. Now that Lee Harin has returned to Korea it will be interesting to watch where his commentary on human interactions will turn.

.

....

.

....

.

.......................

.

.......................

.

.......................

1 comments:

Tobla Howell said...

Superb use of porcelain and glaze characteristics to transform the face and give it life.

Post a Comment