Fine Art Photography Daily

Nikki S. Lee

Not unlike the Thanksgiving horn of plenty , yesterday was an embarrassment of visual riches. I was able to see the exhibitions by Aberlardo Morrell, Kim Keever, Holly Andres, and Mark Kessler (all listed in previous posts)–and they were more magnificent in person, with big, luscious prints to showcase the work. Had a chance to see the Lise Sarfati show at Yossi Milo, the INCREDIBLE Cindy Sherman show at Metro Pictures, Chris McCaw’s perfect Sunburn images at Michael Mazzeo, Luigi Ghirri at Aperture, Bill Jacobson’s landscapes that look like sea scapes at the Julie Saul Gallery (and also met Michael Wolf there), and Sharon Core and Amy Elkins at the Yancey Richardson Gallery. I was wandering by the Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Gallery and was drawn in by Nikki Lee’s huge portraits that look like charcoal drawings over photographs.

“For her latest series, Layers, Lee continues her exploration of identity. Instead of changing character, she investigates her personal identity through the perception of others in different cultural settings.
I am interested in identity as it is affected or changed through social contexts, cultural categories or personal relationships. This interest began through personal experience. I realized that I changed between my surroundings in New York and Seoul, depending on whether I was with my family or friends. So before I was thinking about “who I am” I first started thinking about “where I am”.

Lee traveled to different cities around the world, from Bangkok to Madrid, and in each city asked three separate street artists to draw her portrait on translucent paper she provided. Back at her studio she layered the drawings from each separate city one on top of the other, using a light box to bring out details from the underlying drawings, and then photographed the image. Due to the layering of the drawings, the resulting image is a distorted portrait of the artist that raises questions of perception.
I recognize the difference between the “I” that I perceive and the “I” that others perceive. I think I am shy but others think I am outgoing. So who am I? How do I understand this gap? To understand others sincerely might mean to understand this gap?”

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