Outside Sight (2005) - Creation Series, Chunji-Changjo (2005)
An expansive series, Hyunmee Lee’s Outside Sight includes 145 works, which were painted specifically for the exhibition, Intimacy without Restraint, held at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City. The exhibition featured ten works of 88 x 88 inches, plus 135 works of 12 x 12 inches, grouped in grids according to color. “My approach to painting is without restraint," the artist has said. "I use color, shape and gesture to express human identity with the absence of figures. The freedom I have in my work reflects the freedom I also feel in my own life.” The tenets of Taoism played an integral role into the creation of this series. Reflecting the Taoist philosophy, the artist focused on working from a middle ground of non-judgment in order to bring forth spontaneity. Outsight Sight was an intensely laborious series, both in scope and in depth, a quality that the viewer senses instinctively. Rich forms advance from buttery canvases like an abstract garden. Gauzy veils of paint hover like soft air against the ebony weight of matter. Light peeks through translucent shapes like sunlight illuminating soft mist. Texture swirls and echoes across the canvas as if carved by waves or eroded by the wind. Hyunmee Lee’s work reflects a deep sensibility for the power of the painted gesture without symbolic meaning, inviting viewers into an abstract realm of meditation.
Creation Series, Chunji-Changjo
2003 - 2004
Separating order from chaos, light from dark, and earth from heaven, The Chunji-Changjo series encompasses the spirit of creation and the origins of life. Layers build upon layers in these large-scale paintings. Surfaces are rich with gestural marks; forms, lines and textures overlap as if opening into multiple dimensions. In this series, Hyunmee Lee incorporated Korean calligraphic traditions into her mark making, an influence that she would continue to explore in future works. The Creation Series harnesses powerful, and at times, contradictory, energy in a complex expanse of shape and form. Space appears to rupture, as if reflecting the separation of earthly and heavenly elements and the balancing of sublime forces. Bold and powerful shapes remind the viewer of cosmic migrations; the creation of the sun, moon, and stars; the formation of earth, rock, and matter. Reflecting its namesake, this series operates as a wellspring within Lee’s oeuvre: successive bodies of work move further away from chaos and toward order, as seen in Outside Sight, and further explored in Thousands of Roads.