Arthur moved to the New York City area from Washington, DC where he had a considerable amount of acclaim and fame, selling artwork regularly and creating murals, exhibiting at prestigious galleries such as The Corcoran Gallery of Art, and working on a variety of projects and commissions after graduating from George Washington University. It is not an easy thing to move to New York at any age, because New York is the City that can make or break a career and a life. It takes great courage to take the step out of a comfort zone where we have been happily and successfully living to take the risk that all or nothing might happen. But Arthur was trained in Martial Arts, and he has studied not only the history and physicality of it, but he is a researcher of its philosophy along with that of Karl Jung and Joseph Campbell. As we spoke that afternoon I found myself seeing deeper layers of meaning in his paintings and thinking about a conversation I'd had with someone recently about Joseph Campbell and his life and work. When I mentioned that to Arthur he pointed to one of the paintings and said that it was Campbell's Hero's Journey that was depicted in the figures on the canvas, and all of the pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. Here was a young man who was diligent, hard working, and precise about his his work, and yet there was also a passion for excellence and meaning under his calm countenance. There was a kind of excitement combined with intensity that was overlaid with patience and maturity, and as we spoke and he told me about some of his experiences to date, I started to understand how it was possible for someone to both lose themselves in their work and yet stay focused on the road ahead.
When I went to Arthur's website, I saw this quote by the Japanese swordsman, artist, philosopher and ronin, Miyamoto Musashi, "Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world." It seemed perfectly fitting for the Arthur I had come to know whose own modern day travels seemed in some ways to reflect another Arthur, the King who as a young man had gone on a quest for his own truth. There is a depth to Arthur Kwon Lee that is visible in the layers of paint and color and imagery on the canvases he paints, but his vision is not tied to his own expressions of self. Because of his focus on the world around him, the work that Arthur Kwon Lee creates takes on meanings that speak to the archetypal journey of us all.
Arthur Kwon Lee
In His Studio In Greenpoint
Brooklyn, New York