artcriticalJune 1, 2010
For some 30 years Il Lee has exclusively used, and abused, ballpoint pens, surely by now many tens of thousands of them, to make extraordinary drawings. A satisfying survey of his works on paper from the past 10 years (he also draws on canvas) is currently on view at Art Projects International. Lee is a virtuoso of the ballpoint, that emblematic widget of mass-production. With inflections of speed, spin, and angle, he can come at us with everything from feathery soft stuff to tubular loops of line. And by masochistic repetition he can amalgamate massive color fields of absolute, inky nothingness.
These melted darks are particularly characteristic of Lee’s work, so dense that all directional trace is obliterated. One or two razor-cut contours typically define these shapes, contradicting the Dada abandon of their making, and Lee combines these hard edges with spiky, curly, bleary, or furry edges against the luminous white ground to reach for contrapuntal infinitudes of space and light…
– David Brody
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