Korean-born master printer and contemporary artist Jon Lee has a hand in every aspect of his artistic practice. The artist not only makes his own paper, but also carves and prints each work using a small collection of homemade tools the artist crafted himself. In that respect, Lee’s woodcuts embody much more than marks or folds captured on paper: they are artifacts of an immeasurably dedicated and holistic process.
In addition to his intimate approach to art-making, there is a quiet sensitivity to Lee’s work that extends beyond his celebration of subtle nuance and organic idiosyncrasies. Among other things, the artist is particularly inspired by tradition – specifically the conceptual implications surrounding paper/printmaking and bookbinding. Previously, his work has focused on concepts such as moveable type (a revolutionary convention that originated in Korea long before being attributed to Gutenberg) and the visual manifestations of the golden ratio throughout printed media.
Currently, Lee is working on a series of companion prints for A Fine Line, a series that explores the historic use of the golden section in page layout. The golden ratio, often called the divine proportion, is a number that repeatedly occurs in nature and is traditionally used in art, design, and architecture to achieve beauty and balance. Working with bamboo paper for the first time, Lee’s new woodcuts will be printed on the verso—the left-hand page of an open book—while the existing series was printed on the recto—the right-hand page of an open book. A purely visual representation of organized content, the immaculate, clean lines of Lee’s work reflect the pursuit of perfection that is often associated with the golden ratio. At the same time, the translucency of the ink and the organic impression of the wood grain on the paper, a result characteristic of the medium, create a dialogue between idealized and natural beauty.Written by Jake Eshelman and Laura Rossi