Timothy Lee

Apr 25May 25, 2013
Press Release


Timothy Lee “Traces" Apr. 25 - May 25, 2013 Opening Reception: Apr. 25, 6-8pm

Growing up, I had to hide my illness from my parents, whose Korean upbringings reinforced in them traditional notions of psychological disorders as being social stigmas. In particular, many Koreans believe that such disorders are mental, rather than neurobiological, and the afflicted individuals are seen as weak and shameful. Exploring my OCD through art allows me to take my disorder, thought as a sign of vulnerability in Korea, and create powerful and tangible works with it. The compositions of my works are not premeditated – the forms occur as a result of what I feel is “right” during my working process. The results are abstract, amorphous shapes that serve as mappings of my thought process – a cartography of my psychopathology.
–Timothy Lee

Wook & Lattuada Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Timothy Lee.

Continuously searching for novel visual solutions in an attempt to reconcile his artistic, scientific, and cultural backgrounds, Lee creates pieces that blur the boundaries between two dimensions and three. Fueled by his formal training in neuroscience and drawing, Lee embarks on daring adventures that experiment with space, scale, and the materiality of his mediums. Lee’s works are simultaneously seductive and cold, and organic and industrial. Combining traditional techniques in drawing with a variety of artistic forms – such as sculptures, paintings, and spatial installations – he explores the intersection of art, identity, and culture, and often uses social issues or stigmas as vectors for a narrative.

The title of the exhibition is a double entendre that suggests Lee’s interest in investigating a part of his identity that is both ongoing and residual. The works to which the title alludes to are his large watercolor paintings and sculptures. The beautiful rendering of each “cell” underlies a formal investigation of his identity, both as a Korean and an individual who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Lee’s psychological disorder allows him to sit down for hours, even nights, meticulously painting thousands of dots without any foresight as to how the composition will turn out – his pieces are dictated by visceral reactions that he gets by channeling his compulsions and tics into a visual language. Thus, Lee is tracing his psychopathology through a novel method of “mind mapping” in hopes of understanding his obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The exhibition title also refers to the notion of residues – something minute that is left behind in the passing of something greater. In that respect, Lee also explores the traces of his Korean identity that he still strongly clings onto, despite having grown up in a completely different and Westernized culture. In particular, his large paintings of traditional Korean spirit masks are an attempt to reconcile the clashing facets of his identity: his Korean and American backgrounds. The masks are symbols of traditional values, and of the spiritual culture of Korea – the idea of transparency and reconnecting with one’s roots. However, masks themselves suggest something to hide behind, and it is this syncretism that Lee strives to reach in his pieces. Even his watercolor sculptures allude to delicate floral patterns and landscapes found in traditional East Asian ink wash paintings.

The opening reception of Traces will also include a one-night installation of Lee’s gookeyes, previously exhibition in his solo exhibition secretive skin at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery (Middletown, CT) in 2012.

Timothy Lee was born in 1990 in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to New York City with his family in 1995. Timothy studied Neuroscience & Behavior, Studio Art (Drawing concentration), and Biology at Wesleyan University, graduating with High Honors in Studio Art in 2012. Traces is Lee’s first solo exhibition in New York City, with his previous exhibition secretive skin having been shown at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery in Middletown, CT. His work has been featured in many contemporary art magazines and reviews, both online and in print, and he is long-listed for the 2012 Aesthetica Art Prize in Painting & Drawing.

Timothy Lee lives and works in New York.

For more information, please contact the gallery in New York +1 212 279 2210 or

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10 E. 33 St. 3 Floor
Between 5th & Madison Aves.
New York, NY 10016
Tel +1 212 279 2210