Kiwha Lee (b. Seoul, Korea) is a painter based in New York City posing questions about what painting is in the 21st century and complicating the viewer's reading of pictorial hierarchy by engaging pattern as a narrative tool. Activating original patterns to create spatial depth instead of relying on European perspectival conventions, she sheds Western notions of an "inside" or "outside" and proposes a fresh alternative to easel painting's "painting as window" by using the jali as a metaphorthe ornamental, architectural, latticed screen that functioned as a window for centuries in the non-West. Concentrated light pierces through from "the back of the painting" and affects rather the viewer's space. Reinventing various ancient Asian printmaking processes from craft traditions with oil paint on canvas, she establishes a new approach to abstraction—in deep art historical 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. She represented a two-person booth at Untitled Art Miami 2023 with Chart. In 2024, her New York solo debut show was picked as a "Must See" by Artforum and numerous other stand-out exhibitions lists. Her work has been written about in publications like New American Paintings, ArtMaze Magazine, Artsy, Two Coats of PaintVulture, The Business Times, Asian Art NewsHarper's BAZAAR, AssemblagePlus Magazine, etc. 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. 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. Art residencies/ fellowships include Vermont Studio Center,  Chautauqua Institution (NY) and the NPE Art Residency(Singapore). Her work is collected by The Morgan Stanley Art Collection and other collections internationally. 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.

     Her New York solo debut exhibition "Light Punch" runs from January 19 - March 9, 2024 at Chart in Tribeca, New York. Artsy reviewed her 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".  

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




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