Critics’ Picks

Landing, 2006.

Landing, 2006.

Yoon Lee

the luggage store gallery
1007 market street
July 7–August 5, 2006

It’s nearly impossible to clear a path through the forests of evolving technologies, overabundant media, and accelerated circuits of information framing our cynical, ambivalent stances (which we so easily affect), but Yoon Lee’s graceful yet cacophonous acrylic paintings deepen the effort by visually rendering the dynamism of modern existence. Trafficking in Julie Mehretu’s delicate tangles, but rendering them in bolder, thicker strokes, Lee works with slick surfaces, layering varying degrees of opacity. Semitranslucent areas resembling Vik Muniz’s chocolate syrup are juxtaposed with denser sections channeling the flat color of a Matthew Ritchie. Lee’s acrylic works are clearly digitally composed—her perspectives exude the rubber-band tension of dramatic computer stretching—but the works are the antithesis of digital output. Lee achieves a tactile quality unique to the act of painting. The slick surfaces vacillate between candy and chemical, tasty and toxic, a dynamic suitable to the primarily urban and industrial subject matter: riverlike freeways, architectural skeletons, airplane exhaust trails, power grids, and slightly blurred, undulating forms suggesting the intangible cell-phone microwaves constantly swirling around us. The pictures are painted on bright white PVC panels, a material that enhances the plasticity but also seems suited for works on a billboard scale. Lee places viewers directly into the fray, and in the scope of this exhibition—part of the Tournesol Award to young Bay Area painters that Lee won last year—that field sparkles with a keenly articulated static electricity.