Category Archives: Charles Lee

Exploring the Art of Charles Lee

“I have had many hardships as an artist, but nothing has been able to stop me. As long as I have life in me, I will paint.” —Charles Lee

Charles Lee. "Autumn Music I" (2012). Park West Gallery Collection.By Morris Shapiro, Park West Gallery Director

Imagine a virtuoso musician, who has such command over his instrument that he can play a Bach fugue, flow effortlessly into a galloping jazz improvisation, segue into a blistering rock guitar solo and end up with some hip-hop on a beat-box and turntable. This is the artist, Charles Lee, in a nutshell.

Lee is another artist, whom I like to call the “Aesthetic Olympians” of our time. He and the others are pulling back hard on the pendulum of beauty, skill, visual eloquence, and uplifting and inspiring content, which have been essentially shunned by the elitist art world in favor of philosophical definitions of what is and isn’t art — “newness,” shock and novelty replacing quality.

It’s easy to be seduced by the sheer loveliness of Lee’s imagery, into believing his works are mainly decorative. They are not. They are rooted in a reverence for the art of the masters and an accumulated fluency honed by decades of hard work and discipline. Each of his paintings is a vehicle for the multiple sensations of metaphor and poetry, expressed through the visual impulses of a practiced hand, eye, heart and mind. He’s filling a void in the world for an art that can speak to the many, not only the select few. And yet for those who wish to take time to contemplate the deeper merits of his art, rewards do also await.

I was first struck by the extraordinary number of styles in which he works. But style can be deceptive. Good art cannot survive through style alone and herein lies one of Lee’s great abilities: to maintain a wide range of diverse styles and approaches with consistent artistic caliber. Behind each work is a rigorous artistic statement. And, he is able to maintain a fluency and consistency of myriad visual elements and devices which overlap and appear throughout all of his styles.

Charles Lee "Adjustment II" (2012). Park West Gallery Collection.Consistent Elements in Lee’s Art

Most easily seen at first is Lee’s advanced use of color. He is as equally proficient with earthy, golden-brown tonalities as he is with bright and sunny colorations. He uses black fearlessly (few artists do, some not at all) and his colors, although comforting and controlled, are carefully arranged to ease the viewer gently into his compositions.

He employs interesting textures in most of his paintings. The surface of the canvas allows him another mode of expression, and he is acutely aware of surface even in his delicately painted “studies” of women’s faces and nudes. Many of his canvasses feature thick impasto emulsions applied to the canvas with palette knife (he told me the technique is his own guarded invention). These push the eye to the very front of the picture plane and serve as a means of “framing” the subject and creating a spatial context for the viewer.

Lee is also keenly aware of pictorial (also known as “plastic”) space in his paintings. Whether depicting a realist subject and creating an illusionist representational space, or layering spatial planes as Picasso did in his cubist manipulations, it is clear that he possesses a mastery of defining pictorial space and can marshal any number of approaches to express his intent.

In his purely abstract paintings, which conjure associations with the color field painters and abstract expressionists, one sees areas “tearing” into the space, like caverns and undulations of pulsing color atmospheres, advancing and receding. These are very advanced compositional devices at work in his paintings and they are not accidental. Rather, his fluency with form and composition allows him the luxury of calling up any number of approaches as a means to an end with each chosen subject or style.

His brushwork is deft, confident and advanced. It is particularly noticeable in the realist subjects, including his landscapes, seascapes and images of women in interiors. In these works he marshals a skilled application of color and is able to model his volumes and surfaces through shadow, light and color temperature.

The final measurement of an artist’s ability may be found in his drawing. It is the basis and the backbone upon which all of the other elements of a good painting must rest. Lee’s drawing skills are enviable and can be appreciated in his delicate studies, his complex and dramatic abstractions and observed throughout his entire range of figurative imagery. He is clearly in possession of facile and expressive drawing skills.

Charles Lee "Golden Time" (2012). Park West Gallery Collection.Exploration and Creative Drive

I am a devoted fan of Picasso’s art. I have studied the man and his art for most of my life and I have rarely met an artist who did not mention Picasso’s name when asked about his/her artistic heroes and inspirations. Like Picasso, Lee is a probing, questioning and exploring artist with a powerful creative and artistic drive at the core of his motivation.

It was said that Picasso created “fractal” art — each image giving birth to dozens of other images all springing and expanding from one into another. A similar process is at work in Lee’s art. He clearly has developed defined approaches as he navigates through his various styles, but each approach is also a repository for many of the same painterly and compositional ideas he is spreading through all of his imagery. They overlap each style and re-emerge as precise visual devices, such as sections of piano keys and contours of musical instruments, metallic applications, heavy textural emulsions added by palette knife, strong lighting contrasts and color juxtapositions, among others. These serve to reinforce his distinct personality and allow the viewer confronted with any number of variations of style, to recognize at the same time, the “mark” of Charles Lee.

I once asked him about the many styles in which he paints and about his varied approaches and techniques, which I found so unusual in one artist. He replied, “I am hungry. I am artistically greedy. I want to cover it all — styles, approaches and techniques.”

Images above: Charles Lee, “Autumn Music I” (2012); “Adjustment II” (2012); “Golden Time” (2012). Park West Gallery Collection.
Related Links:

An Exclusive Interview with Contemporary Artist Charles Lee [Video]

"Colorful Music Play" by Charles Lee, Park West Gallery Fine Art Collection“Colorful Music Play” by Charles Lee | Park West Gallery Fine Art Collection

Park West Gallery Artist Series Presents: Charles Lee
Korean-born Charles Lee is a diverse multi-talented artist who paints in two distinct styles, one which incorporates a naïve approach and the other which is more representational and romantic in tone. In the following Park West Gallery exclusive, the artist speaks about his preferred styles and subject matters and the continuous evolution of his work.

(After the video, visit Park West Gallery Artist Biographies to learn more.)

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• Artwork selections from the Park West Gallery/Charles Lee Fine Art Collection are available for purchase through our gallery in Southfield, Michigan, and at our art auctions aboard cruise ships throughout the world. 
Visit the Park West Gallery/Charles Lee Fine Art Collection →

Watch more exclusive videos featuring your favorite artists at the Park West Gallery YouTube Channel →


Dear Park West Gallery

We love to read all of the positive letters from our customers and we’re very happy to publish a handful of our recent favorites. Park West Gallery would love to hear from you too!



We were on a cruise – Rhapsody of the Seas, Royal Caribbean line – sailing from Sydney. Nicole was our auctioneer. We found her extremely helpful, very pleasant and knowledgeable on the artworks. We appreciated her help in selecting the artworks we purchased and in making sense of the many choices.

We are looking forward to receiving our Charles Lee Violin and Cello Duet.


Stephen and Carol S.


Just talked to Tabatha…Truly amazing customer service and just one of the reasons I love Park West!

Susan and Chuck M.
Palmdale, California


I am addressing this email to Albert but want everyone to know the quality of people on the ships. I have been buying from Park West for several years now. In meeting Ansophie and Shaun I must say they are the most pleasant and caring people that I have met on the ships. They truly made you feel cared for and taught me many things. I wish everyone was like the ex-teacher Ansophie, her methods were wonderful. I am in business myself and when your people chose this fine pair you did good. I believe I will have a wonderful relationship with Park West Gallery from here on out and it is thanks to the wonderful couple on the NCL Star in 2008.

Warmest Regards,

Joanie S.
Magnolia, Texas


First off, we would like to thank Park West for the kind invitation to be a part of the Mexican Riviera cruise in December in celebration of the Gallery’s 40th anniversary. What an amazing even it was with not only Anatole Krasnyansky but also Itzchak Tarkay as well.

Ann Marie, Tim, Tom, Laura and Jason did an exceptional job of making everyone of us feel at home while attending to our every need. Simply put, they went all out and the event could not have been any better.

What an additional surprise it was to have David Najar and his landscapes there as well. It was a breathtaking experience.

We were truly honored to have so much time with one of our favorite artists, Anatole Krasnyansky. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined that we would have had the opportunity to have dinner with Mr. Krasnyansky. Mr. Krasnyansky and his wonderful wife, Nelya were always at the auctions and their joyous spirit always filled the room. After speaking personally to and getting the advice of Mr. Krasnyansky, we decided to bid on The Toreador. Being lucky enough to win the bidding, this beautiful piece will now grace the walls of our home.

Not only are the works of Mr. Krasnyansky fascinating and moving to those who have the honor to own any of his pieces, his personal story is poignant and motivational in its scope and depth. Simply put, he is an inspiration to those both inside and outside of the art community.

Larry and Carmen W.
St. Louis, Missouri


We just wanted to thank Park West for the great time we had on the Carnival Miracle. We really had a marvelous time. The hospitality that everybody showed was outstanding and the art education we received was second to none. Please pass our thanks on to the management at Park West and tell them they have a superb crew working for them. We look forward to the next time we get to be with all of you and have as much fun.

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy Holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

Tim O. and Mary J.
Stanchfield, Minnesota


There Has Always Been Art and Music

Cello Solo by Charles Lee“Once, while listening to my mother play the violin, I dreamt of becoming a Musician, like her. Since I was young there has always been art and music in my home and in my life because my wife is also a painter and my daughter a cellist. Even today when I am painting I always listen to music and the rhythm and melody come through in the finished work.”  — Charles Lee

Korean born Charles Lee is a diverse multi-talented artist with a capability of creating many different types of art, from pencil drawn portraitures to tranquil painted landscapes and arresting abstracts.

Charles Lee incorporates a range of style, and should be well received by art collectors as it is very contemporary and pleasing to the eye. He works in two distinct styles, one which incorporates a naïve approach and the other which is more representational and romantic in tone.

His most recent compositions are paintings with a raised richly-textured finish, that utilize mixed media. They are a compelling combination of traditional and neoclassic …Read more

View selections from the Charles Lee collection available at Park West Gallery


Park West Gallery Hosts APACC, A Special Evening with the Arts

APACC Blood of the Dragon Returns Again
A Special Evening with the Arts

Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. / APACC – Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce is hosting their second networking event as guests stroll through the galleries of fine art on Thursday, September 25, 2008 at Park West Gallery.

The event will feature a tasting of selected fine white wines and sake from
Papa Joe’s Gourmet and a sampling of Asian delicacies
prepared by local Asian restaurants.

An Asian artists’ collection will be featured by Jiang Tiefeng,
Dominic Pangborn, Charles Lee, and Hua Chen.

Title Sponsor: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing N.A., Inc.
Event Sponsors: Nippon-Oil – Chrysan Industries and Miller Canfield
Media Sponsors: Corp! Magazine and Dbusiness

Dominic Pangborn, Co-Chair & CEO, Pangborn Design, Ltd. and
Hiroshi Mazawa, Honorary Co-Chair & Vice President, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.

For further information, please contact 248-844-4100 or