Artist Feature: Timothy Hyunsoo Lee

Editor Shenyah Webb, Art, November 19th, 2014

He refuses to take any medication for a more realistic vision of art.

timothy hyunsoo lee art nailed magazine

For decades psychologists have been studying the correlation between creativity and mental illness. In some cases mental illness impairs the ability to create for an artist but in most cases, it fuels it. The stigma of mental illness can cause one to feel like they simply cannot function in everyday society, but art and the process of creating it often has the ability to free one from this stigma.

Timothy Hyunsoo Lee has suffered from a panic and anxiety disorder since his childhood, when his family immigrated to the United States from Korea and he began his battle to identify as a Korean-American. Rather than allowing what developed into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder inhibit his ability to express himself to society, he utilized it to meticulously craft art pieces that examine his identity alongside his “disorder” and explore his interest in the concept of duality. “OCD is merely a major symptomatic manifestation of these two comorbid psychological disorders that I’ve manipulated for my working process.”

His creative process happens in what he explains as “sessions.” Channeling his neurosis, he often works in long durations of up to 24 hours of repetitive phases. He draws thousands of fractals, patiently hand paints them using watercolor or he hand-cuts them away, one by one. He chooses not to take any medication so he can give a rawer and more realistic vision of his perception of art. His intent focus and labor-intensive process takes shape as he maps the processes together, creating not only thought-provoking sculptures and installations that touch on mental illness but more importantly, a deeper understanding of himself.

Timothy Hyunsoo Lee’s exhibition titled “double-sided” will be on display at The Sabrina Amrani Gallery in Madrid, Spain through November 29, 2014. In addition to his current exhibit, The Sabrina Amrani Gallery will also showcase his works in a group exhibition next year from February to March 2015.

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timothy hyunsoo lee art nailed magazineTimothy Hyunsoo Lee (b.1990) is a watercolor artist born in Seoul, South Korea, but raised in New York City. He completed his education at Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT) with a degree in Neuroscience, Drawing and Developmental Biology. Lee was the 2014 recipient of the VSA Emerging Young Artist Award given by the Kennedy Center (Washington DC), as well as the International Emerging Artist Award in Dubai. He currently lives and works in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, and has exhibited in New York City and internationally in Seoul, Dubai, and Madrid. He is currently represented by Sabrina Amrani Gallery in Madrid, Spain.


Shenyah Webb

Shenyah Webb is a Portland-based visual artist and musician. She has been with NAILED Magazine since its inception in 2012 and has served as the Arts Editor and a Contributing Editor since its launch in 2013. A Detroit native, she attended The College for Creative Studies, where she focused on Fine Art and Industrial Design. She is currently enrolled in a Somatic Expressive Arts Education and Therapy training program, studying under Lanie Bergin. You can learn more about Shenyah here. (