Now Representing: Lee ShinJa

Tina Kim Gallery is delighted to announce its representation of Lee ShinJa, a pioneering first-generation Korean fiber artist. She will debut with the gallery at Art Basel later this month, and has a forthcoming New York solo exhibition that is slated to open at the gallery on August 22nd.

Born in 1930 in Uljin, Korea, Lee currently lives and works in Seoul. She received her BFA from the College of Fine Arts at Seoul National University in 1955 during a period marked by several challenges: Korea was still early in its recovery after the war, fiber art was not yet recognized as a serious art form, and women artists were struggling to gain recognition compared to their male peers. Lee’s practice is characterized by her innovative approaches to embroidering, dyeing, and weaving that depart from conventional craft traditions. This spirit of experimentation led her to use unusual materials like burlap sacks and repurposed yarn from used sweaters as well as techniques like pulling, twisting, and unraveling thread to add texture.  

“Lee ShinJa is a true pioneer,” states Tina Kim, founder of the eponymous gallery. “She is not only an artist but has had a full career in the field of art as an educator and organizer of international exhibitions, and a professor, dean, and museum director at Duksung Women’s University in Seoul. It is so urgent that we recognize her contributions now when she is still living. She is a walking embodiment of history.”

This past year, Lee was the subject of a retrospective at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Gwacheon, Korea. Titled “Threadscapes,” the exhibition re-examined Lee’s long career as both an artist and an educator who helped elevate the status of textiles to that of fine art. Dedicated to her craft, Lee has also nurtured younger generations of fiber artists, leaving an indelible mark on the genre and its history. Lee’s work can be found in the collections of major institutions such as the National Museum of Korea, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the Seoul Museum of Art, the Seoul Museum of Craft Art, Sookmyung Women’s University Museum, Duksung Women’s University Museum, and elsewhere.

June 5, 2024
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