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Il Lee works abstractly with a ballpoint pen

IL LEE, BL-095, 2008, ballpoint pen on canvas, 87 x 144 inches (221 x 366 cm)

New York based artist Il Lee is known for his extensive body of work with ballpoint pen. For the past 30 years, Lee has been deeply engaged in drawing: the negative and positive, line and form, what is rendered, what is there but not rendered, what is missing. Using only the ballpoint pen, Lee has put his energetic lines on paper and canvas, as well as created small to enormous pieces which resemble paintings from afar.

Last year for the exhibition Representation/Abstraction in Korean Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Project Coordinator Ali Van asked Lee, “Could you talk about your work method? How do you start?” Lee responded, “Firstly, I think about the edges. Then, when I’ve decided how my edges will be, I start drawing. I’m always watching the surface closely… I have begun to keep the accidents within the process… A monk would always say, ‘Forget about yourself, empty your mind,’ a basic teaching in Korean Buddhism. I sometimes try to follow that method… When I make my work, I concentrate on the ink and paper and on my hand. That’s what I focus on – and then my brain disappears.

Watch the video below to see the energy Lee puts into his mark making. Exquisite!

center: IL LEE, Untitled 978 I (1997-98, ballpoint pen on paper, 82 x 61 inches / 208 x 155 cm) at the San Jose Museum of Art, 2007.

(left) IL LEE, Untitled 696, 1996, ballpoint pen on paper, 30 x 22 1/2 inches (76.2 x 57.2 cm)(right) IL LEE, BL-109, 2008, ballpoint pen on canvas, 68 x 28 inches (172.7 x 71.1 cm)

(left) IL LEE, WR-104, 2010, acrylic and oil on canvas, 32 x 26 inches (81.3 x 66 cm)(right) IL LEE, BL-094, 2008, ballpoint pen on canvas, 60 x 48 inches (152.4 x 121.9 cm)

(left) IL LEE, BL-076, 2006, ballpoint pen on canvas, 72 x 48 inches (182.9 x 121.9 cm) (right) IL LEE, Untitled 801, 2001, ballpoint pen on paper, 60 x 40 inches (152.4 x 101.6 cm)

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