Introducing Dhehee Lee
Dhehee Lee on his work:
Although I initially studied business at the University of Toronto to please my parents, I knew I belonged in the applied arts. I was drawn to art’s freedom of expression and problem solving. Thus, I enrolled in The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009, where I have been forging my own personal vision in abstract painting.
During my first year at SAIC,I initially pursued knowledge of color and space as devices for abstract expression. I concentrated on mixing complicated colors and repainting sections of paintings as many as 30 times, discovering the subtle spaces that can be achieved from color. I juxtaposed the “natural” to the “artificial” in my work, incorporating many pairs of opposites in color, shape, space, and texture.
To solve the color-shape-space relationships, I pursued new experiments, such as transparency and opacity as well as composition and patterns. I explored the differences between vertical and horizontal formats and among various scales, scaling down my large work to a small size that introduced me to a “diary” approach; personal memories of my Korean background emerged as a source. Larger paintings followed, including a collaborative approach with other students, forcing me to deal with chaos and process and what can be learned from solving diverse figure-ground relationships.
In 2009, I received a Residency Scholarship for SAIC’s OxBow, where I studied natural light, reflections, and movement on the water’s surface. By creating thinly painted surfaces juxtaposed with thickly painted and collaged surfaces, I discovered that paintings based on a specific place with specific light could be perceived as abstractions.
I continued developing abstract paintings, eliminating all references to the natural world by eliminating the horizontal landscape-infused format and adapting a square format. I created abstract layers of space by juxtaposing transparent areas with opaque geometric shapes, giving myself more complex problems to solve, I looked at the work of other abstract painters, such as Jackson Pollock, Brice Marden, Willelm de Kooning, Thomas Nozkowski, and David Reed.
Havingfocused on mastering the formal elements of making paintings, I intend to explore Asian atmospheric landscape painting and the important tradition of the spontaneous mark to understand the history of the calligraphic mark in New York Abstract Expressionism. I want to reinvent a contemporary vision inspired by and translated into images for the 21st century. I am inspired by the great Chinese classic, The Tao of Painting, by Mai-Mai Sze, which will help me synthesize East-West traditions in my quest for a new pictorial vocabulary. Ultimately, I am interested in forging an abstract pictorial landscape in which anything can be included and which possesses its own logic.
Art has no limitations or definitions; it does not require a right or wrong conclusion. Using individual creativeness, imagination, and emotions, it is possible to constantly offer new perspectives. Creating art is not only my passion; it also enables me to inspire others, motivating them to embrace their potential to invent innovative images and products and insightful perspectives.