IL Lee “Paintings”

Art Projects International

poster for IL Lee “Paintings”

This event has ended.

The exhibition presents eight paintings selected from an important body of work Lee has been developing over the last ten years, most on view for the first time. These acrylic and oil on canvas paintings feature his approach of incising a top layer of paint with line to reveal a bottom layer of ground. Lee’s signature lines travel the canvas edge to edge and are concentrated at intervals to create fields of edgeless forms that are intrinsically complex in their creation, variety, and interconnection. Importantly, these paintings have a parallel history with Lee’s well known ballpoint pen work and share the distinction of tracing their lineage to Lee’s early mature style of the 1980s.

Many know the accomplishment of Lee’s celebrated ballpoint pen works on paper and on canvas; these works range from the small to the very large, and with them he pushes the simple ballpoint pen to its limit, creating expanses of line and ineffable form, or monoliths, or atmospheres of subtle delicacy. For forty years, Lee has explored the potential of the ballpoint pen, sometimes altering the pen itself to change the quality of a line and always engaging in a demanding process that allows him to repeatedly defy any limited expectations one might have for the ballpoint pen pigment as medium. The paintings of this exhibition are inextricably linked to this history. For these paintings, the ballpoint pen remains as a tool and the medium has become paint. Those with a long memory of Lee’s career will also recognize how the key forms—fields of tangled, bursting concentrations of energetic lines—and the process of their creation—of rapidly incising line through a layer of paint—have connections to paintings from 1982, for which a nail was the tool, and to the ballpoint pen drawings Lee was making at that time. In the “nail paintings,” the line drawn by zipping the nail through paint was quite similar to his ballpoint pen line and indicated the moment Lee broke from other painting approaches and began to make paintings that were clearly of his own language.

IL LEE (b. 1952 Seoul, Korea. Lives and works in New York) is celebrated for his pioneering work with ballpoint pen that began 40 years ago and continues today. Lee’s work, with its unorthodox media and distinctive style, and artistic contributions have received worldwide recognition. In his recent acrylic and oil works on canvas, Lee offers a counterpoint to his well-known ballpoint pen work and continues his early investigations of materials and process that began decades ago. Lee’s innovative and historically grounded ballpoint pen works were the subject of a critically-acclaimed mid-career retrospective at the San Jose Museum of Art in 2007. Work by the artist is represented in prominent collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, San Jose Museum of Art, Palm Springs Art Museum, Vilcek Foundation, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art (Seoul), and Société Bic (France), among others.



from January 14, 2021 to April 24, 2021


IL Lee

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