Sowing as the World Ends

COOPER COLE is pleased to present Sowing as the World Ends, an exhibition of the work of the artist Jennie Jieun Lee. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition at Cooper Cole. A text by Mary Reilly follows.

Sowing As the World Ends is a stunning testament to the force and necessity of art as alarm. Immersing myself in images of the work, eight wall-pieces and five vessels created in early 2021, deep winter into spring, I am shaken; the pain shakes out to that season’s steady rhythm of fresh hell. Lee’s work is consistently this provocative and immediate. Mining personal experience for images that convey the sensitive and emotive unsayable, the artist renders them in clay, wood and color in a complex and physically demanding process: vessels thrown, plywood cut to plane, clay carved, fired, broken, crammed, fixed, scribbled and dashstroked to teeming with the louche lush colors of Taxi Driver’s opening credits (released the same year Lee immigrated to America, the film captures the tones of 1970s New York, the inspiration for the artist’s singular palette). It is a creative catharsis that is less yawp than war cry and generates work that surges at expressive and formal limits.

This work bears the scars of its making. The wheel-thrown vessels tilt, crumple, bend, seem to gyrate in space, as if pushing themselves upright against an unbearable weight and vibrating with the effort. Plywood planks anchor the wall works, where fields of glazed porcelain forms―faces (Oooh how nice to see faces! Art seems as lonely as I am lately) and demi-faces, hands, feces, viscera, plant markers (Lee was in the midst of planting a garden)―verge in fricative relations with one another. This is collage as pushing apart rather than glueing together, as if each piece is suspended in the moment just before its explosion, implosion, or collapse. The effect is both jarring and thrilling.

I know these new works only virtually, jpegs on a brokedown laptop—an unfortunate and odd way to experience such visceral work. No reproduction can transmit its intensity. I envy those of you who will attend the show in person. And I hope you are not like me, only two months out in the open and already asleep, already caught up in the drama, madness and sheer idiocy of the very grind I’d disavowed in the isolated reflection of lockdown. I’m grateful for the wake up call. The only way through is through, alert to both the pain and the beauty and the possibility that they permit.

Jennie Jieun Lee (b. 1973 Seoul, South Korea) is an artist who has challenged the conventions of ceramic sculpture for over a decade. Embracing the inherent vulnerability of the medium that is often tamed by its practitioners, Lee fires her works in various states of uprightness and collapse, and pours copious amounts of glaze on them. Disrupting ceramic’s historical association with controlled domesticity, Lee creates busts, vessels, and paintings that oscillate between the deliberate and accidental, and the decorative and distorted. Lee earned her MFA from California State University Long Beach and a studio diploma from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She is the recipient of several grants including Art Matters Foundation Grant (2019), The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2017), and the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant (2016). Her work has been exhibited internationally, and recent exhibitions include AF Projects, Los Angeles (2020); Halsey McKay Gallery, East Hampton (2020, 2018); Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles (2019); Martos Gallery, New York (2019, 2015); The Pit, Glendale (2017); and Marlborough Chelsea Viewing Room, New York (2016). Lee currently teaches ceramics at New York University and lives and works in Sullivan County, New York, USA.

In Conversation with Jennie Jieun Lee

Artworks

Jennie Jieun Lee

Hell on Earth

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Hell on Earth, 2021

Glazed porcelain, flashé, oil, wood, resin

J.Lee0010

65" X 40" X 5"
165.1cm X 101.6cm X 12.7cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Transplants

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Transplants, 2021

Glazed porcelain, flashé, oil, wood, resin

J.Lee0012

65" X 40" X 4"
165.1cm X 101.6cm X 10.16cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Signs

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Signs, 2021

Glazed porcelain, stoneware, flashé, oil, wood, resin

J.Lee0011

65" X 40" X 4"
165.1cm X 101.6cm X 10.16cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Some Velvet Zoom Room

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Some Velvet Zoom Room, 2021

Glazed porcelain, flashé, oil, wood, resin

J.Lee0009

65" X 41" X 3.5"
165.1cm X 104.14cm X 8.89cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Low and high static

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Low and high static, 2021

Glazed porcelain, pencils, wood, resin

J.Lee0008

39" X 30" X 3"
99.06cm X 76.2cm X 7.62cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Anenomes and Sweetpeas

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Anenomes and Sweetpeas, 2021

Glazed porcelain, flashé, oil, wood, resin

J.Lee0006

39" X 30" X 4"
99.06cm X 76.2cm X 10.16cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Rocket 8pm

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Rocket 8pm, 2021

Glazed porcelain, pencils, wood, resin

J.Lee0007

39" X 30" X 3"
99.06cm X 76.2cm X 7.62cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Cut Flower Farm

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Cut Flower Farm, 2021

Glazed porcelain, flashé, oil, wood, resin

J.Lee0005

29" X 20" X 3"
73.66cm X 50.8cm X 7.62cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Vessel 1

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Vessel 1, 2021

Wheel thrown porcelain, glaze, underglaze, pencil

J.Lee0013

12" X 6" X 6"
30.48cm X 15.24cm X 15.24cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Vessel 2

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Vessel 2, 2021

Wheel thrown porcelain, glaze, underglaze, pencil

J.Lee0014

11" X 4.5" X 4.5"
27.94cm X 11.43cm X 11.43cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Vessel 3

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Vessel 3, 2021

Wheel thrown porcelain, glaze, underglaze, pencil

J.Lee0015

9.5" X 4" X 4"
24.13cm X 10.16cm X 10.16cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Vessel 4

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Vessel 4, 2021

Wheel thrown porcelain, glaze, underglaze, pencil

J.Lee0016

7.5" X 6" X 6"
19.05cm X 15.24cm X 15.24cm

Jennie Jieun Lee

Vessel 5

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Vessel 5, 2021

Wheel thrown porcelain, glaze, underglaze, pencil

J.Lee0017

9" X 6"
22.86cm X 15.24cm