Kiwha Lee (b. Seoul, Korea) is a painter based in New York and Singapore.  She poses questions about what painting is in the 21st century, complicating the viewer's reading of pictorial hierarchy by engaging pattern as a narrative tool. Using patterns to create spatial depth instead of European perspectival conventions, Lee sheds Western notions of an "inside" or "outside" and proposes a radically new alternative to easel painting's "painting as window" the jali —an ornamental, architectural, latticed screen that functioned as a window for centuries. Concentrated light pierces through from the external world that is the "the back of the painting" in order to enter and affect the viewer's space. Reinventing various ancient Asian printmaking processes from craft traditions with oil paint, her work is in dialogue with the hegemony of male, European modernists like Matisse who drew from the visual vocabulary of the imaginary Orient. 

   Nominated for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2018, she has exhibited at Chart, Fergus McCaffrey, Thierry Goldberg, Ortega y Gasset Projects, COL Gallery, Deanna Evans Projects, Far x Wide, Leroy Neiman Gallery, 205 Hudson Gallery, Collar Works, Vardan Gallery, Chan+Hori Gallery, and a two-person presentation at Untitled Art, Miami Beach. Her work has been featured in publications like New American Paintings, ArtMaze Magazine, Artsy, Vulture, The Business Times, Asian Art News, Harper's BAZAAR. Lee was named one of three emerging female artists in Singapore by Asian Art News Magazine in 2019 and was a finalist for the Harper's Bazaar Art Prize 2017. Art residencies/fellowships include Vermont Studio Center,  Chautauqua Institution (NY) and the NPE Art Residency (Singapore). Lee attended Columbia University’s School of Art for advanced painting and has completed her MFA (Painting) from Hunter College in spring of 2022. 

     Lee first studied at the University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts then the University of Technology Sydney in Australia (B. Design in Visual Communication (Hons). Drawing from lived global experience and work re-imagining and changing the way people think and live, Lee channels the empathy and knowledge of a culture miner—keenly interested in philosophy, social anthropology and semiotics to explore the shapes of history, shared space and thresholds. Influenced by travel and a natural inclination to see beyond arbitrary boundaries, Lee founded the influential art space, THE FLAT, from 2013-2018 in Singapore where high/low hierarchies between fine art and craft were purposely removed. The daughter of an urban planner academic and a novelist, Lee was born in Seoul and raised on four continents, namely in the cities of New York, Sydney, Seoul, Boston and London.

     Lee's first New York solo exhibition "Light Punch" runs from January 19 - March 9, 2024 at Chart in Tribeca, New York. Artsy reviewed this solo show as one of 5 Standout Shows to See at Small Galleries This February worldwide as well as receiving a mention by Artforum as a "Must-See". Her work is collected by The Morgan Stanley Art Collection and other global collections. Her paintings were selected for print publication by New American Paintings MFA Annual 2023 issue #165 and ArtMaze Magazine's Double Volume Edition 32-33 in 2023. 

     Lee's first European solo show opens in Rome, Italy in Fall, 2024. Sign up for updates and invitations here




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