Photo of JJ Lee
Photo of JJ Lee
JJ Lee
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Art

Area(s) of Expertise

painting (mixed media), drawing (mixed media), identity politics


My paintings connect and re-interpret Western and Chinese painting traditions. I appropriate colonial, scientific, historical and medical images from textiles, botanical illustrations, advertising and acupuncture charts to create undefined environments.These diverse sources signify the barrage and collision of disparate ideas of twenty-first century life.Through this process I look at the intersection of culture and hybrid identities. The European still life genre, such as the –memento mori–, encompasses ideas of the transience of life and of illusion."Traditional Chinese bird-and-flower paintings are also symbolically rich."By referencing trompe l–oeil techniques and flat ornamental patterning simultaneously I–m also playing with different definitions of space.By exploring the construction of the image I–m also exploring how much we dissect and analyze gender, race and other categories of identification. The trust that we put into scientific –truths"and systems of classification are thereby challenged.By doing this I hope to create a new reflective platform on which to see ourselves. ––"I often paint on fabric such as Chinese silk brocade, or"with Chinoiserie toile patterns. This refers to my mother's trade as a seamstress and the transmission of skills from one generation of women to another. My images address notions of history and culture, beauty, desire and identity. The end result is personal, historical, aesthetic and rooted in many truths and fictions.


Master of Fine Arts, York University, Toronto, ON 1999Bachelor of Fine Arts, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, Halifax, NS 1992

Professional Experience

Artist-In-Residence, Banff Centre for the Arts, Fall 1994, Winter 1995 Artist-In-Residence, Vancouver Art Gallery, Oct-Dec 1996

Selected Exhibitions

2007, 2009 "LOOP Gallery, Toronto ON2006––"Fabrication, Elora Centre for the Arts, Elora, ON; New Paintings, LOOP Gallery, Toronto, ON2005"––"Still Life with Tangents. Lennox Contemporary, Toronto; Gallery 96 Stratford ON2000-2004 Angell Gallery, Toronto, ON2001––"Naturalia, A-Space Gallery, Toronto1997–––––––––"dissection, Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver, BC1996––"Passage, Pitt Gallery, Vancouver, BC, Piecing, Neutral Ground Gallery, Reginaselected group exhibitions2005 ––"The Suitcase Show, York Quay Gallery, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto (with John Abrams, Jane Buyers and others)2003––"art@suite 500, TD Centre, York University Shulich School of Business, Toronto2001––"Naturalia, A-Space Gallery, Toronto 2000––"Art and Healing, James B. Aird Gallery, Toronto; Fresh Paint, MEG Gallery , Toronto1999––"ARTBOX, York University Shulich School of Business, Toronto, ON1998––"China Turns, Ontario Gallery of Chinese Art, Toronto.1997––"Tracing Cultures IV: Cultural Difference and Migration, Burnaby Art"Gallery, BC––"––"Au nom du la terre, Langage Plus, Alma, Quebec (catalogue)1996––"topographies: aspects in recent BC art, Vancouver Art Gallery (catalogue) 1994––"In the Absence, three-person exhibition, St. Mary's University Art Gallery, Halifax 1992––"START: Painters of Promise, Studio 21 Fine Art Gallery, Halifax NS;"Contemporary Artists in Nova Scotia (cat.), Mt St. Vincent University Art Gallery, Bedford

Awards \ Grants

2005 ––"Ontario Arts Council Exhibitions Assistance Grant2004–"––"Visual Arts Winner: Asian-Canadian Visual Arts Fund (North American Association of Asian ProfessionalsYork University Purchase Award––"––"2002 ––"RBC Investments New Canadian Painting Competition:–Central Canada Winner2002––"Canada Council Mid-Career Project Grant2000––"Ontario Arts Council Mid-Career Artist Project Grant Ontario Arts Council Exhibitions Assistance1999––"Ontario Arts Council Emerging Artist Project Grant1998––"Susan Tannenbaum Scholarship (York University)1997––"BC Arts Council Arts ScholarshipYork University Entrance Scholarship––"––"1996––"BC Arts Council Project GrantCanada Council Travel Grant Canada Council Short Term Grant

Selected Publications

RBC Canadian Painting Competition. Ten Years, 2008, RBC/Canadian Art.Carte Blanche II: Painting. Magenta Publishers, 2008Tracing Cultures IV: Cultural Difference and Migration, Burnaby Art Gallery, 1997 Topographies: Aspects of Recent BC Art, Douglas & McIntyre/ Vancouver Art Gallery, 1996

Professional Affiliations / Boards / Juries

Member, Loop Gallery Collective, Toronto, ON 2005 to presentWriting and ESL (English as a Second Language) ––"Committee, Ontario College of Art and Design,"2008 to presentMid-Career and Senior Jury Member, Toronto Arts Council, Toronto, ON 2007Arts Jury Member Ottawa, Canada Council, Nov. 1997,1999, 2004Board of Directors, A Space Gallery, 2003-2004Juror, Painting Applications, Toronto Outdoor Art Show, 2004Panel Member: Painting on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, for the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, ON 2001––"Vancouver Facilitating Committee, Asian Heritage Month"1996-1997Board Member, OR Gallery, Vancouver 1996-1997Lotusland: Chinese-Canadian artists, writers + performers Collective, Vancouver 1995-1997–––