Hongmin Lee is best known as one third of the Korean art team Goo For Brothers, an increasingly popular collective that Lee founded with his friends and fellow artists Seungchul Oh and Jaejung Beck. They have been creating art together since the early 2000s, working in various media from illustration, fine art, graffiti, comics and graphic novels, and animation. Their work shares a common love for kaiju and experimental imagery, and though Lee has enjoyed collaboration in a group, he’s recently focused on building his solo career as a painter and graphic novelist.
Lee has stated that he was inspired by comics and animation from an early age, looking up to artists like Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball, Dr. Slump) and Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), whose influential styles are apparent in Lee’s energetic images. Lee comes from a diverse creative background, but his work consists of primarily acrylic paintings and drawings, which he exclusively posts to Instagram. His captions say things like “sickening”, “vomit”, or “always fight for what is right!”, describing his colorful characters as they literally jump out of their skins, muscles exploding and dripping with sweat.
While his paintings are exciting, bright and colorful, and fun to look at, throughout, Lee addresses serious themes such as feelings of deep despair, outrage, revenge, liberation and change- particularly the transformation that adolescents go through, represented by the metamorphosis experienced by his powerful, yet childish subjects as they transform into monsters. His art revolves around the basic idea of individuals with superhuman powers. But in spite of their incredible abilities, Lee comments that emotions such as rage are useless and “do not solve anything”.