Hun Chung Lee

A biography

Born and based in Seoul, Hun Chung Lee earned his BFA and MFA in ceramic sculpture from Hongik University in Seoul, before moving to the United States to obtain a second MFA in sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute. He then pursued a PhD in architecture in Korea. The range of Lee’s education speaks to his diverging aesthetic and conceptual interests and his vision to merge the seemingly distinct disciplines of art, design, and architecture into a singular whole. 

Over the course of his career, he has created diminutive ceramic objects, a vast array of functional design works, and large-scale, multi-part installations. With each development within his oeuvre, Lee has maintained a relationship to Korean cultural heritage, and in particular the long creative history of Korean ceramics. This is especially manifest in his mastery of and ongoing experimentation with celadon glaze, fired in a traditional, hand-built kiln. 

Lee’s approach requires significant engagement with and knowledge of his materials and process, given the unpredictable nature of glazes. He hand-sculpts each of his pieces and paints the layers of glaze over several days, exerting the expertise he has honed over 30 years, while also embracing the mystery and surprise of the process. 

He is often inspired by nature, which he evokes in his delicate color palettes and the simple forms. In instances, Lee seamlessly incorporates concrete and steel into his ceramic works. In his hands, these “cold materials” appear softer, warmer, and more organic. At the same time, the inclusion of these materials adds intricacy and depth to the texture and surface of his sculptural objects. The magic of Lee’s practice is in the harmony he achieves in each individual piece as well as in the dialogues he creates across different works.