b. 1984, SAR, China

Leelee Chan Biography

Winner of the 2020 BMW Art Journey Award, Leelee Chan is a sculptor and installation artist. She is highly regarded for her adventurous use of recycled objects, transforming abandoned detritus into objects worthy of care and love by blending them with industrial or natural components, and designing them to be meticulously installed in galleries.

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Early Years

Born in Hong Kong, Chan's parents ran an antique shop that whetted her appetite for looking closely at a variety of crafted objects. Her tertiary education however was at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, where with her MFA (2009), she concentrated on painting. An earlier BFA (2006) was at the School of Art Institute in Chicago.

In New York, her studio practice alternated between painting and sculpture but when she returned to Hong Kong in 2016, sculpture, with a physical presence in real space, became a priority at the suggestion of one of her teachers.

Leelee Chan Artworks

While exploring the location of her Hong Kong studio, which was positioned in a densely inhabited industrial area, Leelee Chan discovered dumpsters full of detritus that intrigued her—especially as many of the manufacturing plants had relocated to mainland China. This waste she sifted through, selected, and hoarded, to be recombined later after much scrutiny and intermittent contemplation. Examples, such as these with plastic pallets, include Hazy Blue Silhouette (2021), Nocturnal Encounter (2021), and Circuit (Jasper Green) (2021).

Despite her early interest in painting, Chan's reputation is based on her conceptually complex sculptures, such as those based on normally abandoned by-products like core samples from sedimentary geological drilling, including Barnacles (2019). These demonstrate her interest in the compression of time. In Present Relics (2020), Chan carefully arranges a group of ceramic shards that appear to be Ming dynasty fragments, or else poetically mixes them with other dramatically different materials, from nature or from industry, as in The Grip (2020) and Performer #1 (2021).

Chan's ongoing projects incorporate researching the traditional skills of marble and quartz crystal carving and copper and silver foundries. After winning the 2020 BMW Art Journey Award, Chan embarked on a project that involved visiting world-renowned mines and quarries in Mexico, Spain, and Italy to study their artisan technologies, social relationships, and histories.

Exhibitions

Leelee Chan has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.

Solo exhibitions include Leelee Chan, Capsule Shanghai (2022) and Core Sample, Capsule Shanghai (2019).

Group exhibitions include Solid Ground, Para Site, Hong Kong (2021); Poetic Heritage, Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong (2021); Organs Underground, M Woods Museum x Plate Space, Beijing (2020); KölnSkulptur #10, Skulpturenpark Köln, Cologne (2020); How Do We Begin: X Museum Triennial 1st Edition, X Museum, Beijing (2020); Up close – Hollywood Road, Gallery 149 and Bonnie Lai Antiquities, Hong Kong (2020); Holy Mosses, Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong (2019); Hysteresis, Downs & Ross, New York (2019); and Scaffolds of Meaning, Mine Project, Hong Kong (2019).

Her work is held in the collections of Skulpturenpark Köln, Cologne; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; and JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, Hong Kong.

Website and Instagram

The artist's website can be found here, and her Instagram here.

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2022

Leelee Chan Featured Artworks

View All (22)
The Grip by Leelee Chan contemporary artwork painting, sculpture
Leelee Chan The Grip, 2020 Broken pottery tomb figure hands from Ming dynasty (14th to 17th centuries AD), hammer, vacuum cleaner head, concrete, stone tile, paper clay, stainless steel hardware
13.2 x 10.5 x 10.2 cm
Sold
Capsule Shanghai
Hazy Blue Silhouette by Leelee Chan contemporary artwork sculpture
Leelee Chan Hazy Blue Silhouette, 2021 Found plastic pallet, stainless steel, Lapis Lazuli, Jesmonite, pigment, polystyrene foam, construction adhesive
74.5 x 71.8 x 15 cm
Sold
Capsule Shanghai
Nocturnal Encounter by Leelee Chan contemporary artwork sculpture
Leelee Chan Nocturnal Encounter, 2021 Found plastic pallet, stainless steel, mirror, Lapis Lazuli, Jesmonite, pigment, polystyrene foam, construction adhesive
71.5 x 71.5 x 12.5 cm
Sold
Capsule Shanghai
Circuit (Jasper Green) by Leelee Chan contemporary artwork sculpture
Leelee Chan Circuit (Jasper Green), 2021 Found plastic pallet, salvaged tennis court surface, Green Jasper, bronze powder, pigment, resin, stainless steel mirror, stainless steel hardware
71 x 71 x 13 cm
Sold
Capsule Shanghai
Performer #1 by Leelee Chan contemporary artwork sculpture
Leelee Chan Performer #1, 2020 Broken pottery tomb figure head from Ming dynasty (1300–1600 AD), polystyrene foam, seashell, artificial flower, fiberglass, resin, pigment, and metal stand
14 x 5.7 x 5.7 cm
Asia Art Archive
Halo #2 by Leelee Chan contemporary artwork sculpture
Leelee Chan Halo #2, 2019 Scavenged light, foam packagings. spinning wheel, concrete, pigment
18 x 10 x 8 cm
Sold
Capsule Shanghai
Sunset Capsule #4 by Leelee Chan contemporary artwork sculpture
Leelee Chan Sunset Capsule #4, 2019 Construction lights, metal stands, crystal pieces from a scavenged chandelier, concrete, fibreglass, metal hardware, gel filters
150 x 38 x 38 cm
Capsule Shanghai Contact Gallery
Seaglass Equilibrium 海玻璃平衡 by Leelee Chan contemporary artwork sculpture
Leelee Chan Seaglass Equilibrium 海玻璃平衡, 2019 Metal plate, concrete, polystyrene foams, pigment, seashell and found glass plates
101 x 91 x 45 cm
Capsule Shanghai Contact Gallery

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