Press Release - Keunmin Lee at Shin Gallery New York



Friday, September 7 – Sunday November 30, 2014
Opening reception: Sunday, September 7th, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm

Shin Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of a solo exhibition of the work of Keunmin Lee. This will be Keunmin’s first solo show in the United States.

Keunmin Lee has complicated aims in this latest body of work for Solidifying in the Frame - a series of charcoal and pencil compositions that confronts his hallucinatory figures. These sketches depict organic beings that are gruesome wrecks of tangled flesh and tissue, creatures that are representations of apparitions Keunmin encounters in the hallucinations brought on by his illness. In this work, these creatures that plague him are checked by being given a (kind of) material form. Essentially, they become more real by being depicted within the world contained in his picture frames.

Thus, these drawings are acts of self-preservation. Keunmin addresses his psychic distress by mark making: the process of representing these hideous fantasies on paper and charcoal limits them. In these images they are articulated by being given form, and being articulated are limited, and being limited might be disarmed. However, these beings are not always clearly depicted: sometimes the contours and shading only suggest what they might be. They linger on the border of legibility, something glimpsed, partially understood. He recognizes that as fleshly beings we are vulnerable to suffering simply for how our bodies are made. However, the sources of our trouble are not always clear, not always identifiable: they could be genetic, might be psychological, or sometimes imagined. These drawings are also works seeking kinship. Keunmin says that pain and suffering are the most universal elements in the lives of humans, and in representing his own nightmares he shares a commonality with others.

Ultimately, Keunmin produces this work out of a desire to confront and overcome, so the drawings engage our eyes and psyches, take us with the artist towards fear and distress by looking at his monsters and seeing our own. He takes us further until we realize we have shared his visions but not fallen in, and then cathartic relief follows. Keunmin Lee uses his unique vision as a persuasion and a palliative: we watch phantasms take shape to find relief in the real.

Keunmin Lee was born in 1982 in Korea. He is a painter of honest illusions. Keunmin’s paintings are produced from his hallucinatory visions, visions conditioned and extended by the artist’s investigations into medical disorders, diseases, and pathological conditions. Physical and mental (or social) ailments produce pain, thus signify a “negative” state of being. We tend to shun what we perceive to be physically negative, preferring to extol the instruments of positive visualization and conscious willpower in the project of self-perfection. Perversely, Keunmin depicts flesh slack and unsupported by willful agency, bodies in transitory states of flux that are never culminated, except perhaps in achieving a kind of glory in their abnormality. These are gruesomely honest studies that admonish false and easy portraiture. Born in South Korea, Keunmin Lee now lives and works in Seoul. He received his B.F.A. in painting from Seoul National University. He had a one-person and group exhibitions at Space K, Seoul, in 2004; Salon de Factory, Seoul, in 2009; Gallery Dam, Seoul, in 2011 and 2013; Shin Gallery, New York, in 2014.

For further information please contact Seph Rodney at or at+1.212.375.1735. All images are subject to copyright. Gallery approval must be granted prior to reproduction.

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Image:Refining Hallucinations, 2014,  Oil on Paper, 29 x 22 in. (76 x 57 cm)  © SHIN GALLERY