Korean painter Kwang-Ho Lee creates towering renderings of cacti that bristle with thorns and tangled branches. The colorful oil paintings can reach up to 8 feet tall, an imposing scale with ample room for tediously composed details that push each work into the realm of hyperrealism.
Kwang-Ho Lee’s “Touch” series brings out the tactile qualities of exotic cacti. The desert plants blossom in oblong shapes in Lee’s large-scale works, inviting viewers to examine their thorns, fluff, and smooth skin. Some coiled and others upright and phallic-looking, each plant takes on its own personality. Lee’s paintings are easy to mistake for photographs at a first glance, but his stylized compositions take his work beyond straightforward documentation.
Lee is part of a group of painters tagged as modern realists. Using an expert skill set they capture subject matter, then turn it into something else with pigment, scale and application. Other projects Lee has been involved include depicting a series of Asian family members on chairs. These resemble typical provincial settings around the dinner table waiting for the meal to end and mahjong to begin. In a more recent series the painter depicts winter forest landscapes. He separates these by depicting the areas in day and night which ultimately capture the frozen trees and nubby bushes entangled in a state of dormancy and hibernation. His marks and color propel them into another place and time one that’s just a little bit off from reality.
Hyper-Realistic Cactus Paintings by Kwang-Ho Lee: