While attending Pratt Institute in late 70s, Il Lee was captivated by the delicate lines and detailed expressions of the etching technique. In order to convey these qualities to the canvas, Lee went through an experimental stage with various media and finally settled with the ballpoint pen for its capacity to produce a continuous line of long duration. Rather than dwelling on the traditional tools of paint and brush, Lee’s work consists of fluid line drawings that simultaneously evoke a pulsating rhythm and a meditative silence.
Il Lee introduced his ballpoint pen drawings in early 80s at the Brooklyn Museum and Smithsonian Museum. He has since formulated a truly unique artistic oeuvre evolving around his energetic linear compositions. The artistic community of New York once hailed Lee as a rare talent who works in continuation of Jackson Pollock’s legacy. Lee’s major retrospectives were held at San Jose Museum of Art and Queens Museum of Art in 2007. In 2011, four of his works made into the collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, garnering extensive attention.