Born in Seoul, Korea. Lives and works in New York City.
Kiwha Lee dissects what painting is in the 21st century. She decentralizes the compositional components that make up a painting by using patterns to create spatial depth while her central forms, derived from architecture and ornamental fragments, come to possess a body-like presence. Kiwha Lee’s paintings reinvent ancient Asian printmaking processes using oil paint. The repeated layering of the technique references formal and conceptual aspects of the indo-Islamic screen or “jali” exploring the notion of the “painting as a window”. These complicate the viewer’s reading of pictorial hierarchy and prompt new conditions for seeing. Observing the tenets of Chinese and Korean landscape painting, she investigates ideas about intersubjectivity between vision and immersion in the world. Inside and outside worlds are purposefully muddled as she reimagines narratives through abstraction. Within her work she recalls spaces she has experienced, the stories of unseen material cultures and a wider interest in semiotics.
Having first studied at UNSW College of Fine Arts then the University of Technology Sydney in Australia (B. Visual Communication (Hons), Lee then attended Columbia University’s School of Art for advanced painting and completed her MFA (Painting) from Hunter College in Spring 2022. Nominated for the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2018, Lee has exhibited in New York City at Thierry Goldberg, Fergus McCaffrey, Ortega y Gasset Projects, Deanna Evans Projects, Far x Wide, Leroy Neiman Gallery, 205 Hudson Gallery, Mother Gallery and Collar Works, as well as in Singapore at Chan+Hori Gallery. Her work has been featured prominently in publications like Vulture, The Business Times, Asian Art News and Harper’s BAZAAR. Kiwha 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. She has held residency at Chautauqua Institution, NY in 2016 and the NPE Art Residency, Singapore in 2018.