Working across installation, performance, video, and painting, Lee is best known for documenting the human body and its movements in space and time.Read More
As a young artist in 1970, Lee co-founded the avantgarde artist group Space and Time (ST). Members of the group, who were mainly young artists and art critics, discussed the latest trends in the international art world at a time when international literature relating to contemporary art had not widely been translated into Korean. With a focus on theory, ST also held exhibitions of avantgarde contemporary artworks.
Lee's work during this time foreshadows his interests in the kind of art that challenges traditional modes of artmaking. In 1973, representing South Korea at the Paris Biennale, Lee presented Corporeal Term, which saw the artist transfer a living tree into the exhibition space.
In the following years, Lee increasingly shifted towards performance as a means to explore the relationships between the body and space, and the artwork and viewer. Now recorded as videos, the artist's performance works include Five Steps (1975), first performed at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, which shows Lee walking five steps from a single point and marking his actions on the floor.
By 1976, Lee had begun the ongoing 'Bodyscape' series, in which he paints on large-scale canvases from different angles—from the traditional position of facing the canvas to standing behind it—recording his movements in long, decisive strokes. Resulting paintings retain the sense of action in their uneven brushstrokes, having been made from different points of relation to the canvas, and dripped paint. In works such as Bodyscape 76-2-2019 (2019), the artist's silhouette can be made out from a patch of negative space surrounded by strokes of blue, white, red, and yellow that radiate from the centre.