Seung-Taek Lee: Things Unstable

February 3–May 22, 2023

Seung-Taek Lee: Things Unstable reflects on the pioneering work of the Korean avant-garde artist Seung-taek Lee (b. 1932). Lee gained his reputation from his groundbreaking multidisciplinary practice resulting in a wide range of artistic projects including ephemeral performances, site-specific works, photographic interventions, appropriated canvases, and sculptures.

Deploying natural elements such as fire, wind, earth, and water as conceptual collaborators, Lee’s multimedia performances expanded the lexicon of the 1970s’ turn towards environmental aesthetics marking his practice as an early proponent of eco-art.

Celebrating his life-long preoccupation with the environment, Canal Projects will host re-enactments of two of Lee’s most well-known works: Wind-Folk Amusement (1971) and Earth Performance (1989-1996). Documentation and re-enactments of his performances will contextualize Lee’s practice amidst today’s most pressing ecological concerns while also drawing back to the global environmental movements of the 1970s.

The show seeks to provide a wider understanding of Lee’s incessant aim to disrupt mainstream ideas of art. In subverting artistic hierarchies, Lee’s practice centers instead on the use of quotidian, unsuspected, and at times found objects imbuing his practice with unparalleled humor and irreverence.

Meet the Artist

Special thanks to the artist, Jungsook Lee and Gallery Hyundai.

Canal Projects는 한국의 아방가르드 작가 이승택 (b. 1932)의 선구적인 작품들을 조명하는 Seung-taek Lee: Things Unstable 전을 개최한다. 이승택은 일회성 퍼포먼스, 장소 특정적 작품, 사진적 개입, 캔버스의 전용, 그리고 조각을 포괄하는 혁신적인 다매체 작업들로 널리 알려져 왔다. 이승택의 신작과 기존작을 아우르는 이번 전시는 2023년 2월 3일부터 5월 22일까지 개최된다.

이승택은 기존의 생각과 질서로부터 탈피하는 비물질적, 비조각적 개념을 구축하며 국내외에서 저명한 실험미술 작가로 이름을 알려왔다. 그의 작품들은 민속과 전통적 오브제를 기반으로 구축되어왔으며 한국의 샤머니즘적 전통을 반영하고 있다. 그의 작품들은 테이트 모던 (Tate Modern), 국립현대미술관, 서울시립미술관, 라초프스키 컬렉션 (Rachofsky Collection), 그리고 시드니현대미술관 (Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney) 등 국내외 주요 기관에 소장되어 있다.

Press Release (English)

Press Release (Korean)

Seung-taek Lee (b. 1932) lives and works in Seoul. Lee was born in Gowon-eup, in the Northeastern part of the Korean peninsula. He migrated to South Korea as a young adult where he joined the military. After the end of the Korean war in 1953, the artist enrolled in the sculpture department of Hongik University. Working with stone and sculpture mostly for public monuments in Korea, Lee has maintained a practice that critically thinks about the qualities of matter, space, and the environment.

In the course of his prolific career, Lee has been an active member of a number of artistic organizations like the Korean Contemporary Sculpture Association (1969), New Image Associations (1962) and most prominently the Korean Avant-Garde Association (1970). He has taught at Dankook University’s Faculty of Architecture at the School of Engineering and at the Ewha Women’s University’s Faculty of Sculpture at Department of Arts, He also represented Korea at the Paris Biennale (1969), the 11th Sao Paulo biennale (1971), the Busan Biennale (2002), and the Gwangju Biennale (2010) besides participated in countless individual and group shows.

Wind-Folk Amusement
Performance reenactment led by artistic duo Ayoung Yu & Nicholas Oh
February 25, 3pm on Hudson River Park’s Pier 45

The Avant-Garde Art of Seung-taek Lee
Talk by Dr. Sooran Choi
March 2, 7pm at Canal Projects

The Earth Performance
Performance reenacment led by artistic duo Ayoung Yu & Nicholas Oh
April 22, 2pm, Governors Island Parade Ground

Seung-taek Lee: Things Unstable, 2023. Installation view. Image courtesy Izzy Leung.
  • Seung-taek Lee: Things Unstable, 2023. Installation view. Image courtesy Izzy Leung.
  • Seung-taek Lee, Smoke, ca. 1990. Paint on gelatin silver print, 32.87 x 47.44 in. Installation view. Image courtesy Izzy Leung.
  • Seung-taek Lee, Tied Stone, 1969. Stone, wire, 11.42 x 11.22 x 11.42 in. Installation view. Image courtesy Izzy Leung.