Yoon Lee at Pierogi

Gallery 1
3 April – 3 May, 2015
Opening Reception:
Friday, 3 April. 7-9pm


Pierogi is pleased to present recent work by Yoon Lee. This exhibition features large-scale paintings, made between 2013 and 2015, which revel in the complexity of Lee’s process and composition; they are visually complex, almost three-dimensional, dynamic abstractions.

Whereas Lee’s previous paintings tended to suggest movement through deep space, or whirlwinds of swirling motion, her recent paintings also reference observations from nature. With titles such as “Retribution (Bud),” Loose Rocks,” “A Storm of Sorts,” and “Bloom,” she sets her context clearly and emphasizes nuances in the subject and medium. “Loose Rocks” is informed by her passion for rock climbing. For this painting she worked from memory and photographs, from crude drawings of photos, with additional imagery referencing graphic novels. Clearly these are not movements toward realism, but are rather a truly ambitious reach, developing a sensitivity regarding the subjects. Her intent is an expressive understanding that’s powerful, through a subjective eye that doesn’t require a definitive answer or an esoteric conclusion.

Several of these paintings examine the process of the destruction of structure. The worlds contained within them are being taken apart piece by piece, layer by layer. “Retribution” and “Bloom,” whose titles and orientations seem to suggest opposite motivations, or tendencies – “Retribution,” oriented horizontally, suggests a blowback and disintegration toward the right side of the visual field, while “Bloom” is oriented vertically, as if it is exploding into being – are actually based on the same composition, with the order of the layers reversed. This reversal causes a shift in the depth of field, resulting in an altered spatial experience.

In “A Storm of Sorts” there is an entirely different painting underneath the uppermost layers of opaque and translucent white paint (the storm); the painting underneath is quite vivid but is then muted by the layers on top. This top layer could stand alone but becomes more complex because of the underpainting. When viewed more carefully, additional information and colors are revealed, creating more complexity, more push-pull.

Her process initially appears to borrow from action painting but Lee expands upon this intuitive process by using the computer – an inherently systematic device – as a tool to develop layers and structures before she applies paint to panel. In doing so, she creates an interesting dichotomy and dialogue between the two, between chaos and order.

“Making work that appears responsive to its time preoccupies many contemporary painters. Few find a resolution as persuasive as Yoon Lee’s.” (Kenneth Baker)

Yoon Lee was born in South Korea and grew up mainly in Southern California. She received a BA from UC San Diego and an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She has received numerous awards and residencies, including a Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and the Eduardo Carrillo Prize from San Jose Museum of Art and Museo Eduardo Carrillo. This is her fourth one-person exhibition at Pierogi.