Madison Gallery is excited to announce our participation in ZONA MACO, Mexico City’s largest Latin American Art Fair. This year, we will be featuring works from Jaehyo Lee and Robert Montgomery, two artists who are inspired by a desire to glorify and protect Nature in all her forms.
Jaehyo Lee creates freestanding sculpture and reliefs from humble, mundane, materials, mainly logs and steel nails. What is strongly expressed by Jaehyo Lee’s work is a concern with creating an immersive appreciation of the natural world. Lee not only makes projects about nature, he also uses natural materials so that his sculptures both exemplify and comment on the natural world. Allowing the materials to speak to him, he builds self-contained worlds that mysteriously communicate with their outer surroundings.
To transform his raw material, he employs traditional skills of chopping, sawing, carving, sanding, and polishing. He uses fire and a furnace as an integral part of making his metal ‘nail’ pieces. It is a time-consuming, physically demanding process. His heroic manipulation of reluctant raw material is a rejection of modern technological reproduction, such as 3D printing. The elegance of his work is hard-won, and it’s reflected in the construction of his pieces.
The sculptures are biomorphic, meaning their cell-like structures are organic and fluid. Some have a ‘micro/macro’ effect: they could be a tiny organism magnified or a planet made small. Others reference everyday domestic archetypes: vases, tables and chairs. Curve and contour are expressed. Textures are smooth, silky and invite touch. Reliefs are made from wood studded with nails, which are burnt and then burnished. The nails, like tadpoles, create silvery, rhythmic forms across blackened, charred surfaces. The artist’s various treatments serve to emphasize and enhance the inherent beauty of his carefully chosen material. These pieces invoke the values of landscape, whether they’re viewed indoors or outdoors. Despite their poised and refined appearance, these objects carry an animistic power. These are ‘totemic’ objects, focused for contemplation and meditation. To experience them is to connect to their earthly nature. Jaehyo Lee, through his single-minded action, reveals the spirit in the material.
Lee has work in the following permanent collections: The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea; Moran Museum, Korea Ilmin Museum of Art, Korea; Busan Municipal Museum of Art, Korea Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art, Korea; 63 City Tower, Korea; Osaka Contemporary Art Center of Japan; Hyogo Prefecture Museum of Art, Japan; Sculpture in Woodland, Ireland; Cornell University Herbert F. Johnson Museum, USA; Phoenix Island, Korea; Pusan National University Hospital, Korea; Industrial Bank, Taiwan; Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, Japan; EMAAR Building, Dubai; Daegu Bank, Korea; Lotte World Tower, Korea; Art Sella Sculpture Park, Italy; Gothenburg Botanical Garden, Sweden.
Robert Montgomery is a Scottish artist who is well known for his work with text in public space. His work brings text art closer to the language of poetry. He represented the UK at the 2012 Kochi Biennale and the 2016 Yinchuan Biennale. His work is in museum collections across the world, including the Albright Knox in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and he has had solo museum projects at the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado, Oklahoma Contemporary in Oklahoma City, and the Cer Modern Museum in Ankara. He has worked with low consumption LED lighting and solar power since 2010. He was one of the official artists for ArtCOP21 in Paris in 2015, and in 2016 he made a large-scale solar powered installation for the Climate Coalition. Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine says, “The poems he composes suggest a steady faith that humanity can heal the ecological and emotional trauma of our time”.
Lately, his work has focused on issues of climate change. The Scottish poet’s most recent project is a collaboration with the clean energy nonprofit Little Sun. They collaborated to produce Grace of the Sun – a solar powered light poem urging commitment to renewable energy at the UN climate conference (COP26). After the artwork’s installation in Glasgow (Oct 30-Nov 12), the work will be dismantled and the lights will join Little Sun’s wider efforts to provide clean, affordable solar power to the 600 million people living without electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa; the nonprofit has brought solar light and power to over 3 million people here to date. Montgomery writes, “We are now at the frightening point where the climate crisis has arrived. I’m thrilled to collaborate with Little Sun and Octopus Energy – this project is a beacon of hope. Instead of looking under the ground for energy we should have all along been looking up. A solution is visible to us all the time, every day: the sun. There’s a great beauty in the realization that the sun is there to save us, if we only make the effort to reach out to it. I hope that others across the world will join us to tell the story of solar’s powerful force for good.”
Robert Montgomery and Jaehyo Lee are two distinct artists whose work is elevated when viewed side by side. Lee’s work seeks to develop an appreciation for nature in his audience. His work expresses the beauty of nature on a macro and micro level. Above all else, Jaehyo Lee’s work celebrates life and nature. Robert Montgomery then pushes his audience to take action to preserve the natural world around them for future generations to come. He does this through the use of visually striking bold text that are billboard scale installations, as well as his own written words that sends a message to thousands. Jaehyo Lee’s use of raw materials asks the viewer to contemplate and reconnect to the natural world from which we came. Robert Montgomery asks to put these thoughts into actions. Together these two artists create a strong dialogue about the natural world and how we should interact with it.