Jungjin Lee’s large-format prints on handmade rice paper are often mistaken for charcoal drawings at first glance. She uses no digital technology to create the copies of her work. Rather, Lee uses the more traditional “liquid light” approach, by which she hand-brushes photosensitive emulsion onto handmade rice paper (a process that must be done in darkness). She then uses an enlarger to project the image onto the prepared surface. The results are texturally unique prints; the brushwork traces in the emulsion base lend a painterly quality while the rice paper beneath gives a tactile, organic feel. The unusually large sizes of the prints make their own statement, testifying to the labor and time intensive process of Lee’s work. The prints demonstrate photography in a different light, one imbued with evocative and tangible physicality.
Her latest series, Wind, captures the ethereal quality of its namesake in a series of landscapes dominated by windswept expanses and foreboding cloud formations; panoramas that dare an adventurous spirit, while at the same time warn against casual entry. Indeed, the man-made objects that are included in Lee’s compositions—such as a dilapidated school bus—appear incongruous; less a part of the landscape than beaten into submission by it. In all cases, there’s an elemental vastness to these works that’s at once powerful and serene.
Born in Teagu, Korea, in 1961, Jungjin Lee began taking pictures when she was nineteen, then studied for a degree in ceramics at Hong-Ik University in Seoul. From 1988 to 1996, Lee lived in New York, where she earned a Master’s degree in Photography at New York University. She also worked as an assistant to acclaimed photographer Robert Frank. Her works are among the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Huston Museum of Fine Arts, New Orleans Museum of Art, The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, and The Museum of Photography in Seoul, Korea.