Born in Seoul and raised primarily in Queens, New York, Timothy Hyunsoo Lee creates work that explores his identity as Korean-American and the cultural displacement he experienced during childhood. While studying neuroscience and biology at Wesleyan University, art became an outlet for Lee to process his anxieties and childhood traumas. Although he ultimately decided to pursue studio art, his years of scientific training heavily influenced his artistic language. This is illustrated by the DNA-like forms present in Lee’s watercolors, which are composed of what he refers to as “cells.”
Lee has described his abstract paintings as “mind-maps”—visual representations of his emotional state while working on a given piece. He does not predetermine the composition of a work, but rather allows visceral tics and emotional compulsions to guide his painting. For a 2018 solo presentation at India Art Fair, he created a series of watercolors titled “In One Breath” (when translated from Korean). As the title suggests, Lee rendered each “cell” of these paintings in a single breath.