David Choong Lee combines elements of graffiti, collage, graphic design, portraiture, and classical realism. He was born in Seoul, Korea in 1966 and moved to the US in 1993 to pursue traditional fine art at the Academy of Art. His first major body of work depicted San Francisco’s homeless in the Tenderloin, where he resided while attending school. These gritty, emotive images impressed many, including his teachers, who invited him to join the faculty soon after graduation. He has since been an instructor at the university.
Lee’s portraiture evolved to depict the diversity of San Francisco’s population, and many of the city’s recognizable characters have shown up in breathtaking pieces on his signature wine and cigar boxes. In recent years, Lee has begun to shift focus from the figure to the abstract and geometric. These two styles come together in impressive assemblages that have shown in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Tucson, Canada, and Korea.