View of a gallery full of artworks

Kang Seung Lee

Kang Seung Lee visits various archives, seeking out photographs, books, diaries, and artworks that become the basis for his large-scale printed reproductions or labor-intensive drawings and textiles. The resulting exhibitions present opportunities for viewers to learn about marginalized and repressed histories, whether by seeing a grid of scanned covers of the more than 1500 publications held by a queer archive in Korea or by reading Lee’s trompe l’oeil drawing of a letter handwritten by the AIDS activist Joon-soo Oh. Yet, as opposed to traditional presentations of archival materials, many of Lee’s projects find a quieter, more oblique mode of inviting viewers into a narrative or biography. In graphite, Lee often erases or modifies figures from photographs to emphasize a sense of loss or to redirect the viewer’s attention to the figure’s environs. In gold thread he might re-create abstracted, subtle details of found images. These installations are affective spaces that can physically overwhelm the viewer with the sheer volume of information, as if to counteract prior neglect. But if one looks closely, a sense of intimacy is equally important: Lee’s careful hand is evident in the rendering of each drawing, and much of his source material evinces someone else’s touch.


Kang Seung Lee (b. 1978, Seoul) received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Gallery Hyundai, Seoul (2021); Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles (2021, 2017, 2016); 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica (2020); One and J. Gallery, Seoul (2018); Artpace, San Antonio (2017); Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (2016); and Pitzer College Art Galleries, Claremont, California (2015). Group exhibition venues include Documenta 15, Kassel, Germany (2022); New Museum Triennial, New York (2021); 13th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2021); MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts (2021); Asia Cultural Center, Gwangju (2020); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2020); Daelim Museum, Seoul (2020); Palm Springs Art Museum, California (2019); Participant Inc, New York (2019); LAXART, Los Angeles (2017); and Centro Cultural Metropolitano, Quito, Ecuador (2016). He is a recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship (2022), California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists (2019), and Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant (2018).