Art and Film Collide in Yoora Lee’s Cinematic Oil Paintings

Yoora Lee paints memories and emotions as if watching them in a “movie theater” – “drama with evocative music and melancholy colors”. Fascinated by the unique points of view, compositions and colors that abound in the world of cinema, the artist will often watch films in her studio before starting a new piece. Later, she will make copious sketches before settling on a composition and then articulating it in oil paint, using her unique style of horizontal strokes to compose forms. Through this delicate layering of fine oil paint, his works seem to quiver with momentum, “like a video on a television screen”.

Beginning her technical training in South Korea where she was born and raised, Yoora moved to Chicago to continue developing her personal style: “Instead of just painting subjects from references, I learned to tell stories through my work. The kind of story Yoora likes to tell is often difficult to describe simply. For example, recent experiments have led her to stage the “romantic encounter”; “a painful collision of different things and at the same time a mixture of ecstasy”.

The “love encounter” in movies is often captured as dizzying sensory overload. But Yoora points out that this “passionate type of love often seems unrealistic compared to what is really going on in life.” In his painting boom, she captures the sadness of separation towards the end of a relationship. Skillfully evoking the overwhelming emotions that cling to our sense of smell, the painting depicts “the longing for a loved one like a perfume,” she tells us. In pale, melancholic hues, a seated figure emerges from textured brushstrokes. Leaning into their crossed arms, the figure takes a deep breath as she remembers a loved one through her lingering scent.

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