New Vision: Ballpoint Drawings by Il Lee
Crow Collection of Asian Art
May 22 to September 26
Critically acclaimed, contemporary artist IL LEE creates large-scale, dramatic ballpoint pen works on paper and on canvas
The Crow Collection of Asian Art is pleased to announce New Vision: Ballpoint Drawings by Il Lee. The exhibition marks the first Dallas museum exhibition for Il Lee, a Korean-born New York artist best known for his historically grounded, innovative work using ballpoint pen. The New Vision exhibition, housed in LinkAsia – the newly dedicated gallery for contemporary work – will include eight large-scale works and 50 small works on paper created from 1997 – 2010. The largest is a monumental and visually arresting work entitled BL-095 (2008), created exclusively with ballpoint pen on a 7-foot by 12-foot canvas. One noted art historian described the work as a “phenomenal” achievement. Free and open to the public, the New Vision exhibition opens Saturday, May 22 and continues through Sunday, September 26.
Immediately striking is the great sense of depth conveyed through Il Lee’s masterful application of a single color of ballpoint pen onto a surface of canvas or paper. Lee creates massive forms on equally large canvases and repeatedly experiments in countless smaller drawings with various backgrounds and integrations of line work and color. In exploring the language of modernism, Lee has moved through minimalistic representation of line and form to a more abstracted language of kinetics. In recent series, Lee’s massing of looping, energetic lines have given way to more angular, interrupted and urgent styles of mark making. After more than 30 years of working steadily and developing his craft, Lee has emerged as a vital force in the contemporary art world.
Seemingly simple, a tremendous amount of effort goes into each of Lee’s pieces. His canvas works are primed with five layers of acrylic matte gel, which prevents the ink from invading the canvas and, instead, allows the ink to pool into a smooth wash on the surface, gradually obliterating some of the pen strokes. The process is slightly different for his works on paper. Untreated, the heavy white paper stock retains an impression of each pen stroke, resulting in a chiseled, dappled surface texture. Lee creates areas of pure inky blackness so intense and saturated that the color looks brushed on. Lee’s expressive, contemporary ink work can be seen to have its historical roots in the Asian traditions of sumi ink drawing and calligraphy. While these ancient brush and ink practices evolved from past centuries, Lee uses his multitudes of ballpoint pens and his approach from a modernist perspective to create works distinctly for the present day.
Critically acclaimed and widely exhibited, Il Lee’s ballpoint pen work has been the subject of a retrospective at the San Jose Museum of Art and solo exhibitions at the Queens Museum of Art and the Vilcek Foundation in New York. His work also has been featured at the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of Art and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea. Born in Seoul, Korea in 1952, Il Lee earned his B.F.A. in painting from Hong-Ik University in Seoul in 1976 and his M.F.A. in painting in 1982 from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.
New Vision: Ballpoint Drawings by Il Lee has been organized in collaboration with Art Projects International, New York. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Edward Leffingwell.
The catalogue has been made possible by the generous support of the Vilcek Foundation. Additional support for this publication has been provided by the Korean Cultural Service NY.
Admission is free and open to the public. The Crow Collection of Asian Art is open Tuesdays – Thursdays (10 a.m. – 9 p.m.), Fridays – Sundays (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) and closed on Mondays.
For more information, please go to crowcollection.org or call 214-979-6430.
Art Projects International is a New York gallery recognized as a leader in exhibiting and developing projects for important contemporary artists from Asia. API began this pioneering work in 1993 and has a long track record of nurturing established artists, bringing new and significant talent to the fore and placing their works in important collections. API’s highly acclaimed and widely reviewed exhibitions and roster of international artists have been prominently featured worldwide in solo and group exhibitions at major art museums and cultural institutions in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States.
About The Crow Collection
The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art is located in the Arts District of downtown Dallas. The Crow Collection is a permanent set of galleries dedicated to the arts and cultures of China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia. LinkAsia, the newly dedicated gallery space at the Crow Collection, presents art works that provide a contemporary global path to understanding Asia through unique perspectives and mediums. The museum offers a serene setting for both quiet reflection and learning, which spans from the ancient to the contemporary.