Interview with DS LEE

photographed by Cheon Lee

photographed by Cheon Lee

DS LEE received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her artistic practice reflects her earlier academic and professional background of architecture and urban design through careful consideration of non-structure and application of industrial materials. In addition, her deep interests in fashion have conjured up a profound dialogue with human and surrounding components of daily life, which she has developed and refined through several years of experimental studio practice.

Besides to her art-making practice, her creative activities are interdisciplinary as having expanded to art administration, directing, management and curatorial practices as she constantly gets a creative motivation through communication and involvement with people/organizations from diverse cultural backgrounds & industries.

Her work has shown for a number of prominent exhibitions at Amos Eno Gallery, Nexxt, Mikhail Zakin Gallery, Interstate Project, Luhring Augustine, A.I.R Gallery, Invisible Dog, Youme Haus, etc.

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1. Where do you find inspiration for the fragmented forms and surfaces in your works?

I am very observant and attentive to look at shapes; outlines, silhouette and borders. The shapes which look like destructive, undefined or incomplete-geometry, seemingly apart from a complete entity or something organically formed by chance. I feel strong connection to those shapes because they are like the human mind/heart, they might be like pieces of our mind, which is uncertain and imperfect in the full complexity. My work is my emotional and psychological landscape, comprised of a number of distinctive shapes & colors. I pursue the final image to be un-hierarchical, yet there’s a hidden architecture in it. I endeavor to create a loose structure and organic evolution when progressing a composition.

 

2. Your paintings and installation works share some visual similarities, what are the relationships between them?

My painting practice sprout from the installation practice. While I was making sculptures at the SVA studio, I was fascinated by some fragments and failed parts from sculptures of work-in-progress. Incorporating them onto the wall, floor, ceiling and the existing architectural settings was really fun, I realized I was accessorizing the space with them. It was like a 3-dimensional version of a collage painting. I discovered I liked it to be sweet and eye-candy. Visually the entire installation looked somewhat complex and disordered, but I tried to remain each individual’s distinctive prettiness fitting well with the neighboring elements or surrounding space. I enjoyed the visual lightness of my installation. – I think this aspect was developed to my dominant color palette of pastel tones. I was thrilled to explore the in-between-ness of complexity vs. harmony, minimalism vs. maximal-ism in the progress, asking myself, “Should I attach more to this area, or leave it like this?” I admit I started painting from the installing experience.

 

3. Are there any books you have read recently you found inspiring? 

I am recently reading Utopia by Thomas More, it’s a nice read to think about a city, country, government system and human relationship, particularly in this era. I want to make a painting for viewers to aspire their own utopia. Demian by Herman Hesse is my favorite book, whenever I read it, I feel like my internal thoughts are read by a young man. It’s a self-awareness, and a psychological portraiture. Also the book entails a number of details about a micro-politics, which I am keenly aware around my life. My work was hugely inspired by a quote from the book, "All I really wanted was to try and live the life that was spontaneously welling up within me. Why was that so very difficult?".

 

4. Can you describe your daily ritual in your studio?

Once I enter the studio, I look at works in progress, and think. What to do today? Change to the studio clothes and shoes, and turn on the Spotify. Try not to look at the phone.

5. Are you working on any new projects these days?

I have made digital works too for the past couple years. But I didn’t much develop them. So this year, I plan to make more of it, and will make some moving images. I am preparing on this big move – researching and learning some software.

I am preparing for a couple guest lectures & workshop happening soon at a university in NJ. Very excited about meeting young students, teaching them about 3-D design, and my creative drives with them. 

For another big project, my friends and I have sent a proposal for a projection-mapping project at a stadium in Canada. We are waiting on its result.

6. Do you have any bad habits, and do they affect your work?

I usually start with a original idea and drawing, but I change drastically in the progress, then I regret.. In general, I have a fear about a work, and have too much desire, which is affecting to a work to be completed so hard. 

 

7. Are there anything else we should know about your work?

As I mentioned briefly above, I love to explore the in-between-ness of most conceptions. Particularly, I want to visualize some intangible state in between; complexity and unity, clarity and subtlety, formal and informal, individuality and collectivity, structure and non-structure. I practiced architecture and urban design, so I have a inherent desire to make something in between art and design. I seek an unusual space in my paintings and digital works. I aspire to create images that I can only make. My work is another form of myself.

For more of DS LEE's work: http://ds-lee.com/