Myoung Ho Lee began to photograph trees in 2004. He wanted to reposition them from environmental elements so common that we often do not notice them, and to celebrate unique beauty in the natural world. As he describes it: “It’s as if the tree unites all: the ground, the sky and man in between. In East Asian philosophy the universe breaks down into three parts: Chun-Ji-In. Chun means the sky, Ji means the ground, and In means human. Since a tree connects all three, I feel very much that a tree is like a universe.”
The trees in the photographs on display have been isolated from their environment by artfully placed backdrops of pristine white canvas. Lee’s interventions into the landscape highlight the unique form of each of the trees; the limbs and foliage are shown in crisp detail, they appear to have been flattened out, reduced to elegant graphic elements floating in space. The setting in which each tree grows can be seen extending beyond Lee’s blank backdrops, each plant is shown paradoxically as both isolated from its context, and situated within its habitat.
The artist has widely exhibited his work across Asia, Europe and the United States. His work is held in the collections of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Gyeonggi, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
[NGV Triennial Voices]