Il Lee: New Work

When 29 Oct 2010 - 17 Dec 2010
Where Art Projects International (API)
429 Greenwich Street Suite 5B
New York, NY 10013
United States
Enquiry 212.343.2599

IW-103, 2010.  Courtesy of the artist and API New York

October 29 – December 7 2010

Opening Reception: Friday, October 29, 2010 6-8pm

Press Release:

Art Projects International is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of Il Lee’s recent oil on canvas work. The exhibition, the first dedicated to his new work, will be on view from October 29 to December 17, 2010. In this major new series, one that has opened up rich new territories for the artist, Il Lee offers a counterpoint to his well-known ballpoint pen ink work and continues his investigations of materials and process that began decades ago.

In the new work, Il Lee creates light with his line; he uses a stylus to rapidly draw through dark indigo oil and to reveal shimmering, pale hues of ground. Also, he works dark on dark, or light on light, to create subtle contrasts of hue and value and allow the visceral quality of the medium, and the physicality of the line’s edge, to be as important as investigations of hue, value and form.

Energy in abundance and in restraint announces itself. Appearing is the same frenetic energy Il Lee has put into, for thirty years, his ballpoint pen work on paper and canvas; furiously active lines are created with athletic vigor and the kind of intense, meditative focus needed to make split second aesthetic decisions. The works and the series also carry great potential energy; the stylus-formed lines are infinitely versatile and the richness of the oil and acrylic media allows for a full exploration of the more painterly aspects of Lee’s work.

Unspoiled galaxies of light pour across expanses of the velvety dark and very large canvas of IW-104 and, in other works, horizons or perhaps event horizons of swirling lines materialize and recede into bright blues, browns and blue blacks. Brilliant red paint and strong white line works like RW-004 are contrasted with the more subtle hue combinations of the creamy white and wintery grey of WBL-001. Energetic play and exploration of line and scale are important aspects of the series—dramatic operatic pieces of ten feet in length exist side by side with elegantly ferocious works that belies their small square footage. In a work like TW-091, short marks dominate and, as the stylus made lines take on the quality of a sculptor’s quickly and skillfully carved strokes and as the depth of the warmly hued paint seduces the viewer, the work itself becomes at once drawing, painting, and sculpted panel.

Lee’s oeuvre offers a great breadth of approaches and media as he investigates drawing, the negative and its positive, line and form and of what is rendered and what is there but not rendered. Lee’s monolithic focus has created a universe at once cohesive and yet still expanding in all directions.

About the Artist:

Born in Seoul, Korea, Il Lee lives and works in New York. He received his M.F.A. in Painting from the Pratt Institute, New York and his B.F.A. from Hongik University, Seoul, Korea. Il Lee’s advancement of the language of contemporary abstraction is well documented in books, magazine publications, and other news media. The best-selling textbook Drawing: A Contemporary Approach [Fifth Edition (2004) and Sixth Edition (2008)] places Lee’s work in the context of 20th Century trends in drawing along with other major contemporary artists. Il Lee’s ballpoint pen work has been the subject of a critically acclaimed retrospective at the San Jose Museum of Art and solo exhibitions at the Queens Museum of Art, the Vilcek Foundation, Art Projects International in New York, and most recently at the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, Texas. His work has, also been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of Art and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea.

For more information please call 212.343.2599 or visit