Lee Chang Soo captures light on water: The photographer finds the energy in nature via his work

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Lee Chang Soo captures light on water: The photographer finds the energy in nature via his work


Lee Chang Soo’s photographic work “BL 8-1, 8-2” is part of his solo show entitled “Luminescence, Here and There,” at Hakgojae Gallery in central Seoul. The artist took the photos on view in the exhibition at the Seomjin River, which flows by the 57-year-old artist’s home in Agyang Village, South Gyeongsang, which is close to the border with South Jeolla. [HAKGOJAE GALLERY]

A tour of museums and galleries can be a smart way to spend the summer in downtown Seoul, particularly during this record-breaking heat wave. Even better if the artworks are able to give viewers a cool feeling and offer a brief respite from the extreme temperatures outside. The ongoing solo exhibition of photographer Lee Chang Soo, entitled “Luminescence, Here and There,” fulfills that desire.

Visitors to Hakgojae Gallery, east of Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul, will encounter a diptych of photography at the entrance. The photography captures numerous curved lines of white light wavering on the water’s surface in midnight blue color.

They are “BL 1-1, 1-2” from Lee’s “Luminescence, Here and There” series. Thirty-three photos in the series and one video piece created based on the photos make up the solo show.

All of the photos were taken at the Seomjin River, which flows near the 57-year-old artist’s home in Agyang Village, South Gyeongsang, close to the border of South Jeolla.

Still, each of the photos on view are quite different from one another. Another diptych “BL 8-1, 8-2” which shows light permeated into dark blue waves, will remind the viewers of 19th-century Romantic landscape paintings of storms and seas. Some other photos like “YL 8” capture the sunlight of early morning on the water, resembling a golden thread. Some others look like cosmic images.

“A different image is captured with every click, depending on the amount and angle of sunlight, the conditions of the water, the weather and other things,” Lee said, adding that is why he prefers a digital camera, which allows him to take a burst of shots.


Clockwise from above, Lee Chang Soo’s photographic works “YL 8”(2015); “BL 8-1, 8-2”(2016); and “BL 3”(2017) with the artist himself standing beside it. All of them are part of Lee’s “Luminescence, Here and There” series, in which he captured light on the water in Seomjin River in South Jeolla. They are on view at Lee’s solo show at Hakgojae Gallery. [HAKGOJAE GALLERY]

After working as a photojournalist for several major media outlets in Seoul for 16 years, Lee settled in the village of Agyang on the foot of Mount Jiri in 2000 and has since focused on taking pictures of nature, while growing tea.

His “Luminescence, Here and There” series stands in sharp contrast to his “Eternal Moment” series, which he presented in 2014. The “Eternal Moment” photos capture panoramic views of the 14 Himalayan Peaks, which are hard for ordinary people to access. Photos from the “Luminescence” series on the other hand, capture close-up views of the surface of a familiar river near the artists’s home.

But Lee said they share something in common, and the “Eternal Moment” was a trigger for this new series.

“While taking photos of the Himalayan Peaks, I wondered what made them - in other words, what energy and forces are behind them, behind all of nature,” he said. “Then, I started to not overlook even familiar natural scenes. I began to observe the surface of the water of a nearby river and tried to capture something behind everything through the reflection of light on the water’s surface. I now feel that the space is bigger than the Himalayan Peaks.”

The show runs through Aug. 12. Admission is free. Go to Anguk Station, line No. 3, exit 2, and walk 10 minutes. For details, visit www.hakgojae.com or call (02) 720-1524~6.

BY MOON SO-YOUNG [symoon@joongang.co.kr]

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