Published on June 19, 2015
After his graduation from Hongik University in 2007, Kwangho Lee immediately headed off for a swift and brilliant career proving his prodigious skills to the world. To get a grasp of his amazing fusion of traditional crafts and modern material one has to know the story behind his charismatic person. Raised by his grandparents, Kwangho Lee grew up on a farm in the far country side of Yong Chong. Much influenced by his grandfather working with his bare hands to build implements for everyday’s life and his ability to manipulate materials to turn them into something useful, Kwangho Lee learned traditional crafts right from the start. As a way of living, this philosophy and habit of creating things taught Kwangho the modesty and down-to-earthness which makes him now so remarkable in a world where designers strive for fast career and mass production. A pattern of duality and contrast between the rural childhood in humble conditions and urban living during his school education inspires the creative handling of his environment until today.
Kwangho Lee now lives with his wife and son in Seoul. Like a farmer patiently awaiting the harvest in autumn after having planted the seeds in spring, he creates his works one piece at a time to turn ordinary materials into something beautiful. Kwangho’s childhood among tradition and elements is the creative force driving his original output into an oeuvre of a beautiful symphony of design and crafts. Led by emotional memory instead of precise calculation, Kwangho Lee provides an alternative view on mundane materials. Through an exceptional sense for their boundless capabilties to be transformed into something beautiful, he draws the attention to the unfamiliar and hidden elegancy of the profane. Kwangho Lee’s work unites design, art and craftsmanship in unique pieces of small handcrafted quantities. By experimenting with the neglected features and qualities of the ordinary materials, he takes a closer look to the other side. Kwango Lee recontextualizes, refers and refunctionalizes – proving a frontline design approach to 21st century designart. He does not plan in advance to take a material and create something functional with it. Kwangho prefers a more abstract way of experimentally applying craft to a material to evoke the widest range of creative outcomes.
Lee was selected as the Korean Ministry of Culture’s Artist of the Year, 2011. He has shown work at Commissaires, Johnson Trading Gallery, Victor Hunt, Karena Schuessler, Clear Gallery & Edition, and Gallery Seomi, and participated in a wide variety of prominent group exhibitions. His work is in the permanent collections of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.