Joon Lee: Soft Inviting Palettes of Striking Paintings and Photography

The newest addition to the MINUS ART team of creatives, Joon Lee is a Canada-based artist who creates a dialogue with art and photography. His soft and warm palette and intense relationship with his artworks create abstract pieces full of life and light. From large canvases to photographs, Lee’s artistic expression is equally absurd and real, tangible and distant, profound and playful

Read on to uncover Joon Lee’s sources of inspiration, his advice for young artists, and his intuitive creative process.

What got you excited about photography and art? What were some of your first experiences in art-making?

I’ve always felt harmonious with art, whether that was painting or taking photographs or hand-cut collaging, although it did stay behind the forefront of my younger ambitions, such as sports and music. I didn’t quite take it seriously until 2017 when I realized the importance of it all. The earliest memory I can remember is when I painted a school of fish swimming in the same direction with a lime green submarine on ceramic tiles.

How would you describe your visual style, and what was the process like, finding your own voice as an artist?

My style is similar throughout these mediums, soft warm inviting palettes that are pleasant to the eye. I try not to focus too much on how to speak through my works and let each of them tell me what they need exclusively to feel finished, especially with my large canvas works. 


Does your approach changes when working with different media – from art to photography, for example?

Absolutely! For me, placing, scrubbing, and brushing paint onto homemade canvases seem more tangible, exposing my vulnerability to my surroundings as opposed to the intimate relations of looking through a small viewfinder, taking a photograph, to expose my surroundings. However, my approach to each medium stems ultimately from my subconscious. I am able to describe how I work and the reasons behind them, but in actuality, I refrain from documenting conscious effort that becomes my process.

How do you develop a creative idea? Do you plan out your creative process or go with the flow?

If I have a concept and a chosen medium to best represent such a concept, I plan accordingly. However, I never plan for my paintings as I feel that forms of abstract are too free from intentional confines.


What is a favourite piece or project of yours, and why?

My current series of abstracts which range from 4x4ft to 8x10ft. I love the immersive quality large canvases take on, enveloping my vision. I also have developed a personal attachment to these works as I built each one from scratch: cutting and joining wood, stretching and sanding canvases, adding layers of gesso prior to giving each of them their own form and identity.

What are you currently working on? 

I’m currently working on large scale abstract expressionism pieces to examine absurdism; specifically the abstract quality of existentialism, how its definition feels direct, but its mode is ever so vast and abundant, carried throughout every individual as we each have the will to develop a personal meaning, of its relation to life.


What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

Experiment, experiment, experiment. Explore, examine, read philosophical, economical, political books from an art history point of view to gather unbiased information, question reality and its existence so that you can develop into a confident, well-rounded structure and shape yourself into an educated individual.


Find Lee’s range of photography and art prints here.

Into written by Monica Radulescu