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To Lee, Kwang-Ho, the canvas is a window through which he has an on-going dialogue with the objects painted. In addition, his way of relating to others is presented using different media. This characteristic is most distinct in his recent series of portraits that are combined with some objects and video installations.

Using a digital camera, Lee takes pictures of some everyday people of his own choosing such as his fellow painters, housewives, catholic monks, art critics, manual laborers, and his students that he encounters from time to time. Then, he has the photo images projected onto the canvas to paint the work. The models are seated on the same steel chair against the same background with their unique looks. The models are invited once again for the final touch up of the painting and interviews, which are recorded on two different cameras installed in his studio. The filmed interviews are later edited and presented in the gallery space in the form of video installations along with the paintings and personal souvenirs contributed by the models.
 
Lee has titled the series of his portraits as "Inter-View in Chandong," which suggests that his interviews with the models are the key elements in understanding his works. In his previous works, he was absorbed with the perspective or the point of view in painting and his regard for the object.  The Zoo (acrylic on canvas, 130x130Cm, 1996) is one of the works that reflect his attachment to 'regard.' Just like Velasquez's Las Meninas, the work suggests the existence of another person, the artist himself or the viewer, outside the picture plane who is gazing at the figures in the picture. Whereas the third persons looking at the picture in Las Meninas, namely the king and the queen, are reflected in the mirror at the center of the picture, the observers are not shown in The Zoo. Instead, a woman in the upper right part of the painting is trying to take a picture of the artist himself as he beholds another woman in the lower left corner. He, the beholder of the whole scene, depicts the moment of embarrassment when he realizes that while he is looking at one woman, another woman with a camera is watching him.
  
At first, the gaze of a woman in the upper right corner at me didn't bother me as I maintained a certain distance from her as the other.  All of a sudden, as I became conscious of her existence and her gaze at me,  I realized that my eyes were moving here and there as if I got caught while doing something forbidden. Maybe, it is because of the other's gaze at me and my desire.  (Lee, Kwang-Ho, Artist's Statement)
 
The moment of gazing and being gazed at simultaneously is often detected in his other works. The World of Silence (oil on canvas, 97x130Cm, 1989) reveals the extended space from the inside of the picture to the outside, in which the artist and his wife are portrayed in the picture, looking at each other, shaking hands with each other in one picture plane.  The same can be detected in the work The Blue Curtain, Thai Skirt, and Hye-Ryun. (Oil on Canvas, 160x117Cm, 2001) in which the artist exchanges a gaze with his wife, Hye-Ryun. His partially exposed feet exhibit extended space and the artist or the viewer is now interacting with the gaze of the model. The three paintings demonstrate the process of evolution in his way of responding to his wife.
 
Gazing at someone is a particular way for the artist to express his desires. In his earlier years, he was a reserved and shy boy, having difficulty speaking to the girls of his age. He always gazed at people out of his own interest, but was rather reluctant to reach out to them. Being used to this type of one-way relationship with others, he was embarrassed, in The Zoo, when he found himself being watched by the other woman with a camera, but later he grew accustomed to both gazing and being gazed at with his wife in The World of Silence, and he even became comfortable doing so with his wife in The Blue Curtain, Thai Skirt, and Hye-Ryun.  These dayshe is extending his way of communicating with others from simply gazing at others to responding to them.
 
It can be safely said that the 'Inter-View' series that he has been focusing on so far, therefore, reflects his efforts to get to know other people and to record this process. This idea necessitates the video installation to show the process of his interacting or responding with the models. The souvenirs from the models signify the personal relationships he develops with the models. In painting, he employs various virtuoso brush strokes, particularly in depicting the skin or textures of the clothing, depending on the characteristics of the model and trying to represent the unique 'aura' of the model.
 
In terms of the medium, Lee combines three different major elements in contemporary art: conventional painting, the use of objects, and video installation. This rather dire and experimental approach may cause some controversies on the justification of using them altogether. One will, however, find any of these three indispensable when he or she comes to understand that it is the process or his personal experience of relating to others that the artist wants to share with the audience. Believing that his experimental approach is noteworthy and deserves the attention of the contemporary art world, I am looking forward to seeing the further evolution of his works.

By Yoon, Jin Sup / Art Critic
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