“Wooden fish is my life and meditation”

홍기인 기자l승인2019.04.18l수정2019.04.18 09:35






▲ Artist Lee Ji-hwa

There was a pupil who lived his own way without listening to his teacher. He died and reincarnated with karma on his back from which a tree towered up and a fish swum; it was painful. The teacher was on a boat crossing the sea when he saw this indocile pupil. Feeling sad, he helped him nevertheless. Feeling overwhelmed, the pupil regretted his stubbornness. The pupil asked his teacher to cut off the tree on his back and make it into a wooden fish and drum it to make sound so that people learn a lesson from him.

Wooden fish is hung at Buddhist temples symbolizing wisdom and enlightenment. A Christian woman had a chance to visit a temple, touched by the wooden fish hung there, and started to paint the fish for the next 15 years. This housewife turned wooden fish artist was the one who won the Immerse At The Beach at Art Fair Dubai in 2016 which held alongside the International Emerging Artist Award; she was one of the 8 prize winners among 2,700 participating artists. The prize winning wooden fish was hung on a building watching out the sea towards Palm Jumeirah. 

Lee’s works are more famous overseas than in Korea. Many visitors at an exhibition held in Milan, Italy, for example, made a great buzz about Lee’s works for her use of oil on the Buddhist paintings. This created a unique color and style which stood out from the other works displayed at the exhibition.

Lee is not an art major. She started to paint at 50 because she had more time to do something of her own since her husband traveled overseas often for business and her three grown son were studying abroad; and the visiting the temple with his oldest son one day enlightened her what she has to do with her life from then on; thus painting has become her life and meditation. She held her first solo exhibition in 2014 and near died to brain hemorrhage soon afterward. 

“The sight of my eyes had gone as side effect but I got it back miraculously. So I decided I should paint more while I still have sight. Then I have a problem on my shoulder and I had to have 5 nails planted in my left shoulder. But I carried it on anyway. Without this passion, I wouldn’t have been one of the winners of the prizes at the International Emerging Artist Award” looked back Lee.

“Lee’ works are sincere and have their own unique expressions. She seems to paint what she saw and felt without any biased view or prejudice. In other words, she is a master of using her own language” said Kim Dae-sup, an art critic and professor. 

Apart from wooden fish, Lee uses various subjects such as statues of Buddha and totem poles sized from 53cm x 45cm to 162cm x 130cm. So far, she has painted about 1,000 works. As for the year 2019, she is scheduled for exhibitions in Singapore in July and Russia in September. 

▲ 대표작품 : Meditation(명상), 60.6x50cm, acrylic on canvas

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