Yoon Lee, Road to Absolution, Acrylic on PVC panels, 96×128 inches
Pierogi is pleased to present an exhibition of recent paintings by Yoon Lee. This exhibition consists of large-scale paintings, expansive both physically and visually, punctuated by smaller works that appear to be moments torn from some larger event, with the occasional rest stop in between. These new paintings operate at once at the macro and micro level. They suggest movement through deep space rather than through a particular space. They resemble explosions or points of origin more than whirlwinds of swirling movement through industrial environments. And, simultaneously, they imply temporal events of which the viewer alternately occupies the center point of origin, as in “Road to Absolution” and “More Than a Spoonful,” or is a spectator receiving the brunt of the effects, as in “Sirens.” In a single vertical painting, “Refusal (Rise Against the Current),” Yoon brings all visual forces at her disposal to create a vertiginous splash of defiance. Other paintings, such as “Avoidance” and “Rest Stop (Oasis)” deploy shadow and double vision effects to offer momentary pauses, points of reflection and respite.
Absolution refers to forgiveness of one’s own misdeeds, traditionally received through religious confession and sacrament, but forgiveness can go both ways: for one’s own malfeasance as well as one’s forgiveness of the same in others. On a personal level, Road to Absolution refers to the artist’s personal journey through life, coping with events for which any kind of forgiveness, much less absolution, is nearly impossible. On a more global scale, from the perspective of a Korean American, it refers to Korea’s history of occupation and atrocities by foreign nations and the subsequent denial of such events. “Her subject is both elusive and brutally tangible.” (Benjamin Sutton)
Over the past decade Yoon has consistently worked to realize images that, while being physical objects, appear to simultaneously disappear and then resolve back into view. In earlier paintings she achieved this through a unique painting technique that she developed in order to mimic printing techniques such as benday and halftone dots, interpreted through drawing and painting. In these new paintings, “layer upon layer of translucent paint has taken over the roles once played by the dots. The shadows cast by the semi-opaque layers buried in between the translucent layers of paint add further dimension to the paintings.” In addition, Yoon has begun allowing the initial layers of drawing to be visible, rendering them in paint marker then letting them show through layers of translucent paint. In her effort to achieve this she has found it necessary to mute her typically vibrant palette in her larger paintings.
Yoon continues to develop her compositions by merging elements as diverse as images that she’s compiled from popular media with her own sketches and photographs of both natural and manmade phenomena. Her “work process and focus on a synthetic quality – amplified at a large scale” continues to “imbue a sense of ease and spontaneity from a distance, yet at closer view, captures the immense abstraction of speed, density, and signal that traverse space and time.”
“Making work that appears responsive to its time preoccupies many contemporary painters. Few find a resolution as persuasive as Yoon Lee’s.” (Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle. 2011)
Yoon Lee was born in Busan, 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. This is her third one-person exhibition with Pierogi.