ValerieWon Lee’s art is markedly ‘abstract figurative fine art’ in style.
Her art is futuristic in tone, making striking use of connective lines, form and montage. Cross-cultural and social themes hover in the background. The viewer is invited into Won Lee’s vision, be it a dreamscape or the stuff of nightmare, to experience a series of messages on every canvas.
Won Lee has travelled extensively on her artistic path. The fusion of Asian and international influences in her art results in portraits replete with sadness, arrogance, sassiness and even some cruelty. Her work possesses keen-eyed observations on the human condition. The eyes of her subjects, who for the most part are women, convey powerful passion, and occasionally anger.
Frames, windows, stars, planets and rain permeate the background in many of Won Lee’s paintings. Checkers reflect her feeling that life is like a chess game, that strategy wins through. Some of Won Lee’s work is therefore what one might term ‘chess-art’.
Though a dark motif runs through much of Won Lee’s work, it is not an absolute. Her art is a constant journey and evolution, following the vision of an artist very much of the modern world, yet who connects with history.
Art is a powerful inspirer of change. Won Lee’s contribution to this is, and will be, significant.
As she puts it: “Creating is breaking the rules.”
Valerie Won Lee’s artistic motivations spring from her experiences as a world traveller.
Art is a lifelong journey for her. Entirely self-taught, experimentation is at the heart of her art. She travelled independently worldwide for over fifteen years. Journeys that inspired passionate social and cultural agendas for her life and work.
When a child, Won Lee wanted to be a fashion designer. She spent time drawing faces, unusual haircuts and clothes. Over time, she understood that her passion was drawing. When she started to travel, she adopted pastels, then finally acrylics and oils. Typically, her paintings go through many iterations before she settles on the final composition. It’s a very organic process, little of the design of each painting is pre-planned.
Won Lee’ s work is assembled by collections. Aged 20, she worked for some of the most top fashion emporia such as: Voyage, Issey Miyake, Christian Lacroix, Alberta Ferretti. Her latest collection, a blend of fashion and art, is named ‘Fashion Victims.’
Won Lee has had many life experiences that continue to influence her art. Among them, returning to her native Korea, teaching children living in a garbage dump in Guatemala City, at the “Refugio de La Paz” in El Salvador, living with Pacific tribes, traveling in very remote areas in South East Asia, traveling across seas, deserts, mountains, and living in many cities worldwide.
Won Lee’ s work is a journey through cultures, classes and her vision of the world. In this, it mirrors her own life.
Won Lee presented her first exhibition online on a youtube video with the french singer Marianne de Malakoff. It is in February 2012 that Won Lee accepted to participate in physical events. Her first show was in Niort, France, at the local Commission of Culture, and in collaboration with a local Lao-Thai cultural and spiritual organization. In summer 2012, she exhibited her ‘The Roaring Twenties’ collection at the Bataclan in Paris, a famous concert venue.
In September 2013 Won Lee mounted her “Asia” exhibition at the 11th arrondissement’s Salon d’Automne and in August 2014, Won lee did the portrait of the French singer and actress Lina Lamara who used the painting for the poster of her show ‘Clef de Gaia‘, presented at the Festival d’Avignon 2015. The poster was selected as best poster of the year and will be exhibited at the World’s biggest theatre for one year.
‘The Roaring Twenties’ exhibition attracted the attention of People magazine (South Korea), which published a six-page feature article on her life and work. In this interview, Won Lee was emphatic that artists should not be obliged to pay to be exhibited, as is often the case among emerging artists.
In part to side-step this pay-for-exhibit system, in 2012 Valerie Won Lee established a virtual, online magazine, ‘V.W.L’, that so far attracts over 30,000 views.
For Christmas 2013, V.W.L magazine featured artists around the world hailing from different arts, styles and levels of fame, who agreed to be “World Citizens” in a call for peace and unity. In 2014, she launched the World Citizen Artists community.
In 2015, before committing full time to World Citizen Artists, Won Lee was invited for a solo exhibition at the French Castle ‘Château de Bressuire‘ listed as a Historical Monument by the French Ministry of Culture. She decided to use this exhibition to show solidarity and invited two World Citizen Artists members to participate. For Won Lee, solidarity is more important than exhibitions.
Won Lee hopes that this initiative will inspire her fellow artists to share their space and opportunities with others.