5-year Anniversary – A Mini Retrospective

I began my full-time career as a cut paper artist five years ago (the clock started with my first solo exhibition as a represented gallery artist, although I started making cut paper in summer of 2005). Looking back at the works that I have created, there are several pieces that I consider to be door openers.

“Hanging Gown” is the first piece I used the chain link fence motif. Later, I expanded the idea to create series of works including the “Little Crimes,” “Falling Water,” “Memory Windows,” and “The Butterfly Gown.”

Hanging Gown

Hanging Gown, rice paper cutout, 7×14, 2006

“Atomic Jellyfish” is the first large cut paper with an elevated level of intricacy that I created in late 2007. Although taking as long as four months to complete, it allowed me to push the technical and conceptual limits of cut paper. “Atomic Jellyfish” inspired works that came soon after that dealt with both man-made and natural powers.

"Atomic Jellyfish"

Bovey Lee, Rice paper cutout, 2007

“Beach Ball Blast” is significant as it was the first piece that I focused on environmental issues.

Beach Ball Blast

“Beach Ball Blast,” rice paper cutout, 2009

“Falling Water I–V” is the first series that I created as an installation. Coming from a painting background, I was curious to create a painterly effect using cut paper.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

“Sewing Highways” brought back the narrative-based expressions in my work. I created it after coming back from Beijing in 2010 after visiting the capital of China twenty years prior. The changes in Beijing’s landscape and people’s lives were staggering and overwhelming. It inspired me to create works on the effects of industrialization and urbanization.

Sewing Highways, cut rice paper on silk, 2011

Sewing Highways, cut rice paper on silk, 2011

“Lifting Clouds” is a recent work that explores how we use super machines and high technologies to claim ownership and alter/shape nature to our liking. I developed the concept to create many works in similar vein, such as “Trimming Feathers,” “Painting Corals,” and “Welding Branches.”

Bovey Lee, "Lifting Clouds", 2012

Bovey Lee, “Lifting Clouds”, 2012

“Vase I” modernizes traditional Chinese vases that always depict nature in purity and untouched by humanity. The fact is, there is literally no place on earth that human beings have not interrupted in some way.

Bovey Lee, "Vase I", 2012

Bovey Lee, “Vase I”, 2012

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Gallery Shots of Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory at Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA

Coming back to open my solo, Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, in Palm Beach not long ago. The opening was very well attended. I love how subtle and elegant the color scheme we use for the show. Thanks to Sarah Gavlak who is director and owner of Gavlak. When I first exhibited cut paper, I chose a tone on tone presentation and it gave a very quiet and airy feel to a show. This current solo recreates that same impression. Below are several gallery shots that I want to share with you:

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Bovey Lee: Water Has A Memory, gallery shot, Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida, USA. Thru May 13.

Gallery shots of Bovey Lee: Undercurrents at Nevada Museum of Art

Thanks Brian Eyler, Registrar of the Nevada Museum of Art for taking these photos. Bovey Lee: Undercurrents is on view now and runs thru Janurary 2, 2013.

New Book Inclusions

Basic Paper Cutting Techniques

There are many ways to make paper cutting and techniques may also vary depending on whether you use scissors or knives. However, several basic techniques are universal.

1. Folding

Fold the paper once to create simple symmetry or fold multiple times for more complex repetition.

What the Monarch Remembers

What the Monarch Remembers, template and rice paper cutout, 4.75x3.20", 2010

2. Negative space cutting

The object/motif is depicted in parts that have been cut away.

Beach Ball Blast, details, rice paper cutout, 2009

3. Positive space cutting

By cutting away the unwanted parts of the paper, the object/motif is revealed within the paper that’s left.

Memory Windows I, rice paper cutout on silk, 24x24", 2010

4. Black and white outlining

The simultaneous use of both negative space and positive space cutting techniques.

The Pebbles Think They're Buddha

The Pebbles Think They're Buddha, rice paper cutout on silk, 12.25x12.25", 2010

Source: Zhang, Daoyi. The Art of Chinese Papercuts. Beijing, China: Foreign Language Press, 1989.

Practice Makes the Master

When I learned German in college, the very first principle my teacher taught was: Übung macht den Meister, i.e., Practice makes the master.

As I later realized, this principle applies to almost everything else, especially cutting paper.

When I made “The Pebbles Think They’re Buddha,” I had to do what I try to avoid at all cause – re-cut. The problem is not the pebbles but the up side down shadow of the buddha. When a silhouette is seen up side down, it is more difficult for the eyes to recognize it right away unless it is very clear and distinct.

The buddha shadow on the left is too vague and the right is much better, although I did not like how thick the neck looked. Click to see larger image.

Buddha shadow tests

Buddha shadow tests

So the third time’s a charm, the final version (click to see larger image):

The Pebbles Think They're Buddha

The Pebbles Think They're Buddha, rice paper cutout on silk, 12.25x12.25", 2010

The Holland Paper Biennial opens today

It marks the first time I exhibit in The Netherlands. The Holland Paper Biennial opens today and I have two works on loan to the Museum Rijswijk, i.e., “Office Riot” and “Drum Dash.” The Biennial features twenty-seven international artists is held at two locations: Museum Rijswijk and CODA Museum, Apeldoorn.

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