Painting with light: Kyu Sang Lee’s surreal visions brought to life

Photographer Kyu Sang Lee’s foundations are skewed in the direction of fine art. Having recently completed a degree in photography at Michaelis, the Seoul-born, Cape Town-based artist sees his images as a photographic equivalent of painting.
“I always think of photography as painting in the 21st Century and regard myself as a painter who paints with light,” he explains. “I make sketches of images before I conceptualise my shoot. I make sketches daily. It has become almost habitual, as if I am writing in a diary everyday. Based on my sketches I try test shoots and see how it develops from a sketch to an image.”

Self Portraits with a Figure of Madonna Behind a white Paint

The young photographer’s work reflects his powerful imagination and skill for creating elaborate, surreal scenes using analogue photography techniques. “I am more interested in portraying the images that are in my mind, which do not exist in real life. This is when a photograph becomes like painting.
“As soon as a viewer realises that a photograph is not depicting reality, one starts to search for the intention of the artist and tries to find an answer to the question. The moment a photograph carries a part of yourself, that is the moment when a photograph becomes an artwork.”
His darkly beautiful body of work illustrates the presence of existential anxiety in every day life. By interlocking the concept of mortality with photography, a time-based medium, Kyu focuses on constructing the realm of the metaphysical or even the spiritual.

Self Portrait (2016)

“My belief is that anxiety acts as a medium in which we can be ourselves. Like Ivan Illich in Tolstoy’s novel, anxiety is the thrashing in our hearts when our lives do not go as planned and when Death, once seemingly a mere dot far away, now stands in my immediate path. Anxiety, then, is the essence of existence.”
At the moment Kyu is exploring how to create an image that is appreciated by one’s heart, rather than an image that is understood by one’s intellect. “It is a different take from my previous way of making artworks and I am excited how the image will come to me,” he shares.

A Family of Three.


Towards a Brilliant End.

The Universe.

The Festival of Insignificance.


Self Portrait with TULIP.

To view more of the artists work visit his website.

Between 10 and 5