Artist's Statement: Looking In, Looking Out (1/27 - 2/28)

Looking In, Looking Out @Adah Rose Gallery, 1/27/2023 - 2/28/2023

I have been employing the same art-making process since 1996, my final year in graduate school. Following  the surrealistic tradition of automatism, I start by staining my painting surface with water-based pigment. I then observe the spontaneously created marks until they reveal to me distinct images, which subsequently inform me of particular visual narratives. 

From that beginning, in those random marks, I always see Pinocchio and the Little Mermaid, two children's story characters that made a significant imprint in my childhood memory. And I have been utilizing those characters as alter egos that stand in for my inadequate sense of self and the inner struggles fed by my childhood traumas. Over time, two more images have appeared on a regular basis: a full-fledged human figure and an oversized hand. Upgraded from the wooden boy or the half-human and half-fish female form, the completed human body that emerges embodies an ideal form of my self or, alternately, a mere shell of that self. And the larger-than-life hand represents an unknown force, a higher power that indirectly influences the outcome of the drama involving the other main characters.

In 2020, a new image emerged for the first time in my art practice: Little Red Riding Hood. In preparing for this exhibition, I fully embraced and adopted this new, colorful figure in my work. To me, this well-known fairy tale figure symbolizes the innocence of a pure blank space, a space uncontaminated by a sense of superiority or inferiority–a space free from any judgments. Unweighted by psychological struggles and moral codes, she appears in my visual stories of internal emotional conflicts as a fluid character who shifts freely from the role of an observer to that of a pawn, a griever, and a disruptor. 

In utilizing this slowly-evolving cast of recurring characters, the primary focus of my visual telling of my mindscapes has remained consistent: I am interested in examining and sharing with the viewer not what my emotional struggles are but how I navigate through them and carry on living. As shown in Row, Row, Row Your Boat (2022), the two main protagonists of my stories–Pinocchio and the Little Mermaid–continue to paddle down the stream of my subconscious still today as they have done since the beginning of my artistic and psychological journey. To me, this life I live, know, and create often feels like nothing but a dream.

Kyujin Lee
January 2023

New Exhibition

New Exhibition
New Solo Exhibition, Looking In, Looking Out
1/27/2023 - 2/28/2023
Vernissage: Saturday, Jan. 28, 5-7pm
Adah Rose Gallery 
3766 Howard Ave
Kensington, MD 20895


New Exhibit

New Exhibit
A New Solo Exhibit, Happy Mending: Paintings by Kyujin Lee at Lab Gallery at Brentwood Arts Exchange in Brentwood, MD, from May 3, 2021 to July 24, 2021.

In-person viewing available on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, from 11am to 5pm.
Please click here to schedule appointment for in-person visit.