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March 16, 2019

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Intricate journey through a young artist’s mind

FLOWING upward toward the ceiling, two bottles of wine, one painted neatly against a white background, the other lost in the confusion of misty chaos, express the questions posed in artist Lee Shang Hwa’s exhibit at the Art+ Shanghai Gallery.

The two contrasting paintings reveal the young artist’s questions about where life will lead us and beautifully encapsulate the angst and uncertainty early of a young artist’s career.

The tops of both paintings’ frames are left open to show that the journey is not over and more discovery still awaits. The religious and soul searching motifs in Lee’s work is present in many of the pieces on display.

Mixing styles of oils and acrylics, landscapes, meticulous color dot arrangements, and pieces focusing on the frame rather than the canvass, Lee shows his versatile aptitude at conveying his messages through many different mediums. With wonderful technique and texture, each piece is wildly different from the last.

One way to approach Lee’s work is to imagine yourself traversing the maze. Unlike labyrinths, mazes are elaborate networks of pathways. With different entry and exit points, hidden loops, traps and dead-ends, they are meant to confuse and bewilder.

It is for this reason the exhibition invites the viewers to take a walk “Through the Maze,” as the title of the exhibition suggests, to navigate through an artist’s mind that is intricately dissected by expansively branching pathways of thoughts and ideas.

The motif of a maze is so pervasive throughout Lee’s practice that almost every series of his work either literally or figuratively presents us with a puzzle.

Embarking on such a journey exposes us to a variety of viewing experiences ranging from puzzlement to revelation, unsettling entanglement to tranquilizing clarity.

Unlike most solo exhibits that focus on the work of an artist’s past, “Through the Maze” also looks to the future and asks questions about the uncertainty of the path before us.

His artistic practice acquires a bigger purpose of finding a path to an awareness of self and of man’s position in the world.

Each new series of Lee’s work asks simple, yet fundamental questions about life and its sometimes directionless nature: What are we? What do we need? Where are we going?

Born in Seoul in 1988, Lee began pursuing a career in art in 2004. First studying in Seoul at the School of Performing Arts, he moved to Beijing in 2008 to practice oil painting at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA). Lee earned his Master’s from CAFA in 2018 and began exhibiting his art in both China and South Korea.

 

Date: April 14 (closed on Mondays), 10am-7pm

Venue: Art+ Shanghai Gallery

Address: 191 Nansuzhou Rd




 

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