William Havu Gallery presents Changing Shapes, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Hyunmee Lee, with an opening reception on Friday, May 12, 5-8 pm in Denver.
Hyunmee Lee: Changing Shapes
May 12–June 23, 2023
opening: May 12, 5-8 pm
William Havu Gallery, Denver
William Havu Gallery in Denver presents Changing Shapes, a solo exhibition by Korean artist Hyunmee Lee. After three years of research, experimentation, and personal exploration, Lee’s artistic path has blossomed into this new series of paintings. While these paintings draw on her past series, she unleashes a powerful sense of newfound freedom in the abstract shapes, lines, and meditative gestures that emerge from these canvases. The dominant shape, often a vivid yellow, stands alongside her traditional use of black and reflects the dongbaek, a Korean camellia.
Black has multiple dimensions for me: it reflects my artistic heritage and reverence for Asian calligraphy. Having grown up in a monochromatic society with the tones of the “white-clad people” (as Koreans were historically known), black has always held an essential place in my work. Yellow, however, now serves as a source of illumination that complements the symbolic use of black.
Together, they create harmony and contrast. My use of yellow began in 2008, in my previous series, “Inland Island”; and over time, its significance and importance in my work has deepened, becoming increasingly expressive.
Raised in a Korean culture enriched with Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucianist traditions, Lee’s introduction to Western art and culture challenged her to meld Western influences with her Korean heritage. These divergent cultural experiences led to deep self-reflection, inspiring a lifelong journey to develop her artistic voice. Although Lee’s roots are in Korea, her comfort and self-assurance living and working in Western cultures have enabled her to integrate all her cultural experiences into her artwork, resulting in a diverse and expressive body of work.
In this new series, Lee incorporates a variety of techniques in her artistic process, including study, drawings, calligraphy, meditation, and collage. These techniques are all essential in creating her paintings, and her choice of color, shape, texture, and scale are key components of her artistic vocabulary. The process of meditative gesture continues to be foundational to her paintings; this use of minimalistic but varied gestures brings both spontaneity and control and reflects her growing sense of freedom and confidence in her work.
Lee received her BFA in painting from Hongik University, Seoul, and earned MA and MFA degrees from the University of Sydney. After returning to South Korea, she taught at Hongik University while exhibiting her works in major art galleries and museums worldwide. In 1997, Lee emigrated to the United States; she taught at Utah Valley University and later moved to Santa Fe, where she currently works as a full-time artist.
Lee has conducted numerous solo exhibitions across three continents, including Sydney, Seoul, New York, Salt Lake City, and Santa Fe. She has been featured in major solo exhibitions at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum, and her recent works have been exhibited in the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Gallery. In 2015, Lee was honored with the prestigious Fellowship for Visual Arts Excellence from the Utah Division of Arts and Museums.