IL LEE is best known for his pioneering work with ballpoint pen that he began more than 30 years ago and continues today. Lee’s recent oil on canvas work and new prints bring the viewer back to his early investigations of materials and process that began decades ago. Lee’s oeuvre offers a great breadth of approaches and media as he investigates drawing, the negative and its positive, line and form and of what is rendered and what is there but not rendered. Lee’s monolithic focus has created a universe at once cohesive and yet still expanding in all directions.

Critically acclaimed and widely exhibited, Il Lee’s oil on canvas work and his ballpoint pen work on paper were recently exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In addition, large works by Il Lee were featured at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in 2013. Il Lee's innovative and historically grounded ballpoint pen works were the subject of a mid-career retrospective at the San Jose Museum of Art and solo exhibitions at the Queens Museum of Art, the Vilcek Foundation in New York, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, Texas. His work has been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of Art and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea.

His work is represented in major collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, San Jose Museum of Art, Vilcek Foundation and National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul.

© Art Projects International

For the full Artist Biography, download the PDF below.

IL LEE

  • Born in Seoul, Korea. Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

EDUCATION

1982

M.F.A. in Painting, Pratt Institute, New York

1977-78

Pratt Graphics Center in Printmaking, New York

1976

B.F.A. in Painting, Hong-Ik University, Seoul, Korea

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2013

Il Lee: New Work, Art Projects International, New York, NY

2012

Il Lee and The Line of Duration, Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, Korea

2011

Il Lee: Monoprints, Editions and Paintings, Art Projects International, New York, NY

2010

Special Installation in Representation/Abstraction in Korean Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Il Lee: New Work, Art Projects International, New York, NY
New Vision: Ballpoint Drawings by IL LEE, Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas, TX
Il Lee: Small Drawings 2001-2010, Art Projects International, New York, NY

2009

Il Lee, Gebert Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM

2008

Il Lee, The Vilcek Foundation, New York, NY

2007

Il Lee: Ballpoint Drawings, Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY
Il Lee: Ballpoint Abstraction, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA
Il Lee: Ballpoint Works 1980-2006, Art Projects International, New York, NY

2006

Il Lee: New Work, Art Projects International, New York, NY

2005

Paris/New York: Il Lee, Galerie Gana-Beaubourg, Paris, France

2004

Il Lee: New Drawings and Paintings, Art Projects International, New York, NY

1997

Il Lee - Line and Form: Drawings 1984-1996, Art Projects International, New York, NY

1996

Il Lee: Recent Paintings, Gallery Woong, Seoul, Korea

1993

Recent Paintings of Il Lee, Gallery Han Kook, Seoul, Korea

1992

Recent Paintings, Haenah-Kent Gallery, New York, NY

1987

Works on Paper by Il Lee, Gallery TE, Tokyo, Japan

1984

Il Lee, Space-311 Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1982

Works on Paper by Il Lee, Space Gallery, Seoul, Korea

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2013

Ballpoint Pen Drawing Since 1950, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT
The Moment for Ink, San Francisco State University Art Gallery, CA

2012

Intersecting Lines, Art Projects International, New York, NY
44th Collector's Show, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR
Pratt Alumni Painters, Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York, NY
11th National Drawing Invitational: New York, Singular Drawings, curated by Charlotta Kotik, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR

2011

Abstract It!, National Museum of Art, Deoksu Palace, Seoul, Korea

2010

INK, Inc., Holly Johnson Gallery, Dallas, TX
Architecture and Abstraction, Gensler, New York, NY

2009

Faces & Facts, Korean Culture Service NY, New York, NY
Paper and Process 2, Art Projects International, New York, NY
Asian Art Archive Annual Auction, Sotheby's, Hong Kong
On, Of or About: 50 paper works, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX
Art HK 09 (Gebert Contemporary), Hong Kong
Unknown Territory, Art Projects International, New York, NY

2008

Infinite Line, BRIC Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2007

Black, White & Red All Over, Michele Mosko Fine Art, Denver, CO

2006

The Mountain, Art Projects International, New York, NY
Close to Home, curated by Elisabeth Akkerman, Block Party, Brooklyn, NY
Above & Beneath, curated by Cynthia Thompson, Memphis College of Art, TN
Two-Person Show, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA

2005

FALLAYAVADA: Bahc Yiso Project and Tribute, University of California, Irvine, CA

2004

Paper and Process, Art Projects International, New York, NY
NextNext Art, curated by Dan Cameron, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY
Open House, curated by Charlotta Kotik and Tumelo Mosaka, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Size Does Matter, Boreas Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
SFIAE (Art Projects International), Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA

2003

Marking: Drawings by Contemporary Artists from Korea, The Korea Society, New York, NY
Ten Years 1993-2003:Art Projects International, Art Projects International, New York, NY
Linear Investigations, Alpan Gallery, Huntington, NY
Ballpoint Inklings, K.S. Art, New York, NY

2002

Routes of Influence, Art Projects International, New York, NY
New Acquisitions 2001, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwachon, Korea
Reaction, Exit Art, New York, NY

1999

Confluence of Cultures, Schafler Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY

1997

Footsteps since 1997, Steuben East Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY

1993

40 years of Korean Contemporary Printmaking, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwachon, Korea

1991

Contemporary Art of Korea, Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City, Mexico and Kum Ho Museum, Seoul, Korea

1988

Commemorative Exhibition of the 25th Seoul Olympic Games, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwachon, Korea

1986

The 6th India International Triennial, New Dehli, India
Korea-New York '86, Thorpe Intermedia Gallery, Sparkill, NY

1985

Korean Contemporary Prints Now-Then, Ho-Am Museum, Seoul, Korea

1984

Seoul International Drawing Biennale 84, The Art Center, Seoul, Korea

1982

Contemporary Korean Painting, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
7th British International Print Biennale, Cartwright Hall Gallery, Bradford, UK

1981

Korean Drawing Now, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY and Smithsonian Museum, Washington, DC

PUBLICATIONS / CATALOGUES

  • Klein, Richard. Ballpoint Pen Drawing Since 1950. Exhibition catalogue, reproduction. Ridgefield, CT: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 2013.
  • Rubinstein, Raphael. IL LEE: New Work. Exhibition catalogue, reproductions. New York: Art Projects International, 2013.
  • Bliss, Sharon E. The Moment for Ink. Exhibition catalogue, reproduction. San Francisco: San Francisco State University, 2013.
  • Rubinstein, Raphael. IL LEE and The Line of Duration. Exhibition catalogue, reproductions. Seoul: Gallery Hyundai, 2012.
  • Leffingwell, Edward. IL LEE: New Vision – Ballpoint Drawings. Exhibition catalogue, reproductions. New York: Art Projects International, 2010.
  • Farver, Jane, Yu Jin Hwang, and Judy Kim. Faces & Facts: Contemporary Korean Art in New York. Exhibition catalogue, reproductions. New York: Korean Culture Service NY, 2009.
  • Kleinberg, Joanna. IL LEE: Ballpoint Drawings. Exhibition brochure, reproduction. New York: Queens Museum of Art, 2007.
  • Northrup, JoAnne, and Edward Leffingwell. IL LEE: Ballpoint Abstractions. Exhibition catalogue, reproductions. Foreword by Susan Landauer. San Jose: San Jose Museum of Art, 2007.
  • Bakke, Erik. IL LEE: New Work. Exhibition brochure, reproductions. New York: Art Projects International, 2006.
  • Thompson, Cynthia. Above & Beneath. Exhibition brochure, reproductions. Memphis, TN: Memphis College of Art, 2006.
  • Wei, Lilly. Paris-NewYork: IL LEE. Exhibition catalog, reproductions. New York: Korean Cultural Service NY, 2005.
  • Gould, Philip. Il Lee: New Drawings and Paintings. Exhibition catalogue, reproductions. New York: Art Projects International, 2004.
  • Kotik, Charlotta and Tumelo Mosaka. Open House: Working in Brooklyn. Exhibition catalog, reproduction. New York: Brooklyn Museum of Art, 2004.
  • Sale, Teel and Claudia Betti. Drawing: A Contemporary Approach, 5th edition. Reproduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2004. (also 6th edition, 2008)
  • Sanders, Jung Lee, ed. Art Projects International: Ten Years Reproductions. New York: Art Projects International, 2003.
  • Gould, Philip. Contemporary Korean Painting. Exhibition catalogue, reproduction. Bronxville, NY: Sarah Lawrence College, 1982.
  • Work on Paper by Lee, Il. Exhibition catalog, reproductions. Seoul: Space Art Gallery, 1982.
  • Baro, Gene. Korean Drawing Now. Exhibition catalogue, reproduction. New York: Brooklyn Museum, 1981.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY / REVIEWS

  • Morse, Trent. “Making Cutting-Edge Art with Ballpoint Pens.” ARTnews (New York), cover article, January 2014. Reproductions.
  • Schwendener, Martha. “Drawing Evolves, Testing Its Boundaries.” The New York Times, April 7, 2013. Review, reproduction.
  • Bergman, Jeff. “Ballpoint @ The Aldrich.” Atlas, March 29, 2013. Review, reproduction.
  • Kim, Kyung Gap. “Il Lee Solo Exhibition.” Hankyung (Seoul), June 26, 2012. Reproduction.
  • Lee, Young Ran. “Il Lee’s Ballpoint Paintings.” The Korea Herald (Seoul), June 26, 2012. Reproductions.
  • Jung, Hyung Mo. “My Own Universe Drawn in Ballpoint Pen.” JoongAng Sunday (Seoul), June 24, 2012. Reproductions.
  • Kwon, Keun Young. “Il Lee Exhibition at Gallery Hyundai.” JoongAng Ilbo (Seoul), June 21, 2012. Reproduction.
  • Moon, So-young. “Solos Showcase Abstract Art.” Korea JoongAng Daily (Seoul), June 21, 2012. Reproduction.
  • Kwon, Mee-yoo. "Only Ballpoint Pen to Draw Lee's World." The Korea Daily (Seoul), June 19, 2012. Review, reproductions.
  • Blom, Katelijne. Glamcult (Amsterdam, Netherlands), April 2012. Reproductions.
  • Cho, Sang-In. “Il Lee’s Works Enter the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection.” The Seoul Economic Daily (Seoul), March 16, 2012.
  • Kim, Myoung-Soo. “Met’s Selection… New York Artist Il Lee.” Maeil Business Newspaper (Seoul), March 14, 2012.
  • Buckle, Carrie. “A Perfect Match.” Harper’s Bazaar Interiors, October/November 2011. Reproductions.
  • "Conversation with Il Lee." Interview with Il Lee, Jane DeBevoise, Jung Lee Sanders, and Ali Van. Asian Art Archive in America (New York), February 9, 2011. Reproductions.
  • Kim, Myoung-Soo. “Il Lee at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Maeil Business Newspaper (Seoul), March 19, 2011. Reproductions.
  • Jung, Hyung Mo. “Creating Light with Ballpoint Pen, the Cosmic Beauty.” JoongAng Sunday (Seoul), March 13, 2011. Reproduction.
  • Seo, Jung-Hyun. “Finding Zen Through Line.” Newsweek Korea (Seoul), March 4, 2011. Reproductions.
  • Beshkin, Abigail. “IL LEE, M.F.A.’82, Artist.” Gateway (Pratt Institute, New York), Eye On Alumni, vol. 21, no. 2, November 2010. Reproductions.
  • Mora, Patricia. “Top Summer Shows You Can Still Catch, North and South.” The Huffington Post, September 8, 2010. Review, reproduction.
  • Miller, Tanya. “Review of New Vision: Ballpoint Drawings by Il Lee at the Crow Collection of Asian Art.” Dallas Art News, August 31, 2010. Review, reproduction.
  • Brody, David. “Contrapuntal Infinitudes: Il Lee at Art Projects International.” artcritical (New York), June 19, 2010. Review, reproduction.
  • Simek, Lucia. “Il Lee’s Large Ballpoint Pen Drawings Harness a Powerful Quiet.” D Magazine (Dallas), June 7, 2010. Review, Reproductions.
  • Gaynor, Emily. “Emily Gaynor on IL LEE: Small Works 2001-2010 at Art Projects International.” The Drawing Center News, The Bottom Line (New York), March 30, 2010. Review, reproduction.
  • Abatemarco, Michael. "Painting with Paper Mates." Pasatiempo (Santa Fe), August 7-13, 2009. Cover article, reproductions.
  • Chung, Joon Mo. “Il Lee.” Shindonga (Seoul), September 2008. Reproductions.
  • Lee, Sun-Hwa. “Il Lee at the Vilcek Foundation, New York.” Art in Culture (Seoul), July 2008. Review, reproductions.
  • Museums: Exhibitions in the Americas. Art Asia Pacific Almanac 2008 (New York), vol. 3, 2008.
  • Voelz Chandler, Mary. “Captivating Simplicity.” Rocky Mountain News (Denver), January 9, 2008. Reproduction.
  • Grant, Michael. "Best Art Shows 2007." Metroactive (Silicon Valley), December 19, 2007.
  • Genocchio, Benjamin. “Queens Museum of Art; ‘IL LEE: Ballpoint Drawings.’” The New York Times, September 7, 2007.
  • Clarkson, Lamar. “A Few Good Pens.” ARTnews, (New York), September 2007. Reproduction.
  • Nam, Jeongho. "Snowflakelike Ink Recalls a Distant Constellation, Foliage, or Stones." Joongang Ilbo, (Seoul), August 13, 2007. Reproduction.
  • “Il Lee,” The New Yorker, New York, August 13, 2007.
  • Genocchio, Benjamin. “To See the World in Ballpoint Pen.” The New York Times, August 10, 2007. Review, reproduction.
  • “Il Lee: Ballpoint Drawings.” Time Out New York, July 26, 2007.
  • Baker, Kenneth. “Ballpoint Abstractions in San Jose.” San Francisco Chronicle, July 7, 2007. Review, reproduction.
  • “New This Month in U.S. Museums.” artnet (New York), July 1, 2007.
  • Chung, Joon Mo. “Il Lee at San Jose Museum of Art,” Wolgan Misool, reproduction, Seoul, vol. 268, May 2007.
  • Van Zandt, Jack. “Ballpoint Abstractions,” San Jose Inside, review, San Jose, April 12, 2007.
  • Wykes, Sara. “Beauty in Ballpoint: Distinctive Doodles by Il Lee are Collected in an Impressive Exhibit at S.J. Museum of Art.” The Mercury News, review, reproductions, San Jose, April 1, 2007.
  • Kim, Hong Ki. “Vast Universe Drawn with Ballpoint Pen.” Art in Culture, preview, reproductions, Seoul, March 2007.
  • “Il Lee Ballpoint Abstractions at the San Jose Museum of Art.” Wolgan Misool, preview, reproduction, Seoul, vol. 266, March 2007.
  • Gant, Michael S. “Whirls Enough and Time: Il Lee does Wonders with a Humble Ballpoint Pen.” Metro Silicon Valley, review, reproduction, Silicon Valley, March 14-20, 2007.
  • Zimmerman, Heather. “Drawn In: Artist Il Lee Puts Pen to Paper—and Canvas—in a Unique Way.” Silicon Valley Community Newspapers, review, reproduction, Silicon Valley, March 14, 2007.
  • Goodman, Jonathan. “Il Lee, Chun Kwang-Young and Lee Ufan: International Abstraction, Generational Trajectories.” Art AsiaPacific, reproduction, New York, no. 51, Winter 2006.
  • Leffingwell, Edward. “Il Lee at Art Projects International,” Art in America, reproduction, New York, October 2006.
  • Park, Sukie. “Il Lee.” The Korea Daily, reproductions, May 17, 2006.
  • Bakke, Erik. “Just what is it that makes Il Lee’s art so different, so appealing?” Art in Culture, reproductions, Seoul, vol. 7, no. 4, April 2006.
  • Wei, Lilly. “Beyond the Minimal,” Art in Culture, reproduction, Seoul, vol. 7, no. 4, April 2006.
  • Knowles, Carol. “Where It’s At: New York artists chart body, mind, and spirit in Above & Beneath,” Memphis Flyer, review, Memphis, March 23-29, 2006.
  • Koeppel, Fredric. “Looking into Above & Beneath,” The Commercial Appeal, review, Memphis, March 10, 2006.
  • Goodman, Jonathan. “Il Lee at Art Projects International,” Art AsiaPacific, review, reproduction, New York, no. 42, Fall 2004.
  • Maine, Stephen. “Dateline Brooklyn,” Artnet, review, reproduction, New York, May 26, 2004.
  • Chung, Shinyoung. “Marking: Drawings by Contemporary Artists from Korea,” Art AsiaPacific, review, New York, no. 40, Spring 2004.
  • Malhotra, Priya. “A Week of Surprises,” Asian Art News, reproduction, Hong Kong, vol. 14, no. 1, January/February 2004.
  • Harrison, Helen A. “All about the Delicacy and Energy of the Line,” The New York Times, review, reproduction, November 23, 2003.
  • Halle, Howard. “Making a Big Scene,” BKLYN, reproduction, New York, Fall 2003.
  • McNatt, Glenn. “Korean Art, with a Western Twist,” The Baltimore Sun, May 28, 2003.
  • Bakke, Erik. “Il Lee, Line and Form: Drawings 1984-1996,” Space, review, reproduction on cover, Seoul, vol. 354, April 1997.
  • Kingsley, April. “Il Lee/Art Projects International,” Review, review, New York, February 1, 1997.
  • Guest, Robert. “Soda Bottles, a Turtle Ship and Minjung,” ARTnews, February 1994.
  • Suh, Jeung Gul. Wolgan Misool, review, reproduction, Seoul, June 1993.
  • Park, Woo-Chan. Space, review, reproduction, Seoul, no. 308, June 1993.
  • Raynor, Vivian. “12 Korean Artists Show at Thorpe,” The New York Times, reproduction, February 16, 1986.
  • “New Face: Recent 8 Drawing Works of Il Lee.” Space (Seoul), October 1982. Reproductions.

SELECTED COLLECTIONS

  • Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • The Vilcek Foundation, New York
  • San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, California
  • National Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwachon, Korea
  • Total Museum, Seoul, Korea
  • Han Lim Museum, De Jeon, Korea
  • Hong-Ik University, Seoul, Korea
  • Duk-Sung Women’s University, Seoul, Korea