Hyunsook Cho and Three Other Artists at the Lee and Lee Gallery


lee & lee Gallery. 3130 Wilshire Blvd., #502. Los Angeles, CA 90010. 213-365-8285 info@leenleegallery.com. HOURS TUE – FRI: 12 – 5 PM SAT: Appointment only

Just west of downtown Los Angeles, the Lee and Lee Gallery has a four person show that is worth the struggle to find nearby parking. (Hint: There is a lot directly behind the building that houses the gallery on the fifth floor. One goes up a concrete ramp that is about fifty feet away from Wilshire Blvd. on Shatto Place.)

Linda and I originally set out to visit the exhibition on its opening day to see the work of Hynsook Cho, whose paintings we had seen in an exhibition at this gallery several months before the pandemic broke out. Cho is known for her work on public art projects, The intervening time between the onset of the initial quarantine and Cho Cho’s 94 pieces represent a one collage a day project she undertook during the pandemic summer of 2020. Making use of old travel magazines, Cho calibrated each day’s mood swings with precise restraint in unexpectedly optimistic collages. In a conversation at the opening, she mentioned that one day was so daunting in its confinement that all she wanted to do was eat and sleep: hence, a spoon serves as a stanchion for one end of a hammock in her back yard. One accepts the minimalism of this redoubt not as a retreat from an overwhelming foe, but as an insignia of one’s valor in maintaining an inner balance sufficient to nourish one throughout the hibernation. These collages says that Cho did not emerge famished from the ordeal, but as a traveler of inner space who rediscovered the poignant strengths of her inner equilibrium. Indeed, the imposition of isolation hardly stultified her imagination, which staunchly revels in the necessities of whimsical association as a soothing catharsis of the incalculable trauma of anticipated time with others lost forever. Memorable art summons compressed absence and lets it briefly engorge itself with palpable continuity again. How much yearning quietly seeps into the empty spaces around Cho’s aligned configurations! In the chronological reconnaissance of that which is beyond the reach of even an hour’s calm walk from one’s residence, Cho’s sequence reminds us to juxtapose our own fragments of this harrowing time and make of them the headstone of our powers to endure.

Sung Sill Rhee’s paintings reminded me of James Dickey’s poem, “The Heaven of Animals,” minus Dickey’s proclivity for a master-servant binary. Rhee’s arching spirals of color intermingle with the inherent torsion of animal existence to suggest a multi-dimensional simultaneity to animal awareness. As viewers, we cannot extricate ourselves from the habitation of sentience we share as animals with these creatures, and Rhee’s paintings remind us not to overthink the ecology of time and eternity. These paintings are self-absorbing, if the viewer permits the paint to do the work of meditating on one’s presence in their presence.

The artistic statement of the third artist, Eunsil Jeoung, reminded me a bit of Agnes Martin’s poetics: “My work is a gesture in a state of restraining emotions. …. By repeating simple lines and colors, I want to show the new energy of life created by work itself by meeting the light and the depth of the color and the height of the lines.” I stood in front of one of her paintings far longer than I first expected to. All too often a painting can merely represent the transfer of energy onto a surface, but its depiction does not emanate the encapsulated energy restored to the shapeliness of its sources. A stalwart humility, capable of rebounding from the retaliating evasiveness of the world’s alleged grandeur, is needed for an artist to attain that circularity, and Eunsil Jeoung will probably surprise us with how often she can accomplish this in the years ahead.

Finally, the large photographs of flowers, both on stems and branches, by Moon S Yang should not be overlooked. The individuality of each blossom harkened back to the original meaning of “individual,” which according to Raymond Williams’s Keywords enculturated “indivisible” as its primary junction. Yang’s flowers pull us toward that latter nuance and deserve prolonged attention.

2ND SHOW: 7. 10. – 7. 24. 2021

This is the second of several shows that are celebrating the reopening of artistic gatherings in Los Angeles. The first show, which ran from June 19 through July 2, included Donghuyn Chung, So Yoon Kim, Young Hoon Kim, and Young Shin. The show I have described will run through July 24th, and three more exhibitions will follow, all of which can be found at:


Isn’t it obvious that a major survey of Korean-American artists working in Los Angeles is long overdue some institutional behest?

(All photographs by Linda Fry. Images used by permission of the artists.)

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