ALEXANDER LEE 

Lives and works in Tahiti, French Polynesia and New York, NY.

Alexander Lee was born in Stockton, CA, and grew-up in Mahina, on the island of Tahiti, French Polynesia. He earned his BFA from the School of Visual Arts (2000), his MFA from Columbia University (2002), and MPS from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University (2004). Lee’ s trilogy, THE DEPARTURE OF THE FISH, titled after the creation myth of the island of Tahiti, premiered at Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles in 2006 and at Clementine Gallery, New York in 2007. His subsequent projects, RECITATIONS FROM THE GREAT FISH CHANGING SKIES (2008), and EXPANDING-EEL-DEVOURER (2009) continue his interest in storytelling and the anthropic process. THE TUPAPAU WITHIN (TE TUPAPAU MANAVA) followed, a stage piece about the inner beasts at play in the creative process, was conceived with Composer Keith Moore and workshopped at Newman Popiashvili Gallery between Dec 2010-Jan 2011 with the contribution of Gabriel Romero, Juliana Snaper, and the PRISM Quartet. In 2011, in DRAWING FOR UHURU, the artist trekked the 5895 meters up to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro, and unfurled a drawing of the Tahitian flag he made during his ascension. From 2012 to 2016, he was Guest Artist Lecturer at the Centre des Métiers d’Arts de Polynésie Française, where he spearheaded MANAVA, a workshop and exhibition project which aimed at revisiting the ethnographic collection of the Musée de Tahiti through contemporary works. In 2014, Lee’s THE BOTANIST, a visual retelling of the legend of the breadfruit through early English botanical endeavours in the Pacific, premiered at Collectors Contemporary, Singapore. Subsequent projects, THE BOTANICAL FACTORY I & II were respectively presented by Art Production Fund at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and part of the exhibition Made by...Feito por Brasileiros at Cidade Matarazzo, São Paulo. In 2016, he takes part of 'ŌRAMA, the first exhibition of 'ŌRAMA Studio (a Tahiti based artists collective, of which he is a founding member), at the Musée de Tahiti et des Iles. In 2017, his work TE ATUA VAHINE MANA RA O PERE - L’Aube où les Fauves viennent se Désaltérer a multi-room installation collapsing the narratives or Pele and the many nuclear tests in the Pacific was part of the 1st Honolulu Biennale; a continuous wall painting covering 4500m2 of the MHKA - Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp titled Te fanau’a ‘una’una na te Tumu: THE SENTINELS, part of A Temporary Futures Institute; and ME’TIA - An Island Standing, the first in a new series of video works, part of Tidalectics at TBA21 / Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Wien which travelled to the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, Croatia. In 2018, he stages La Collection CANOPUS, during the Tahiti Fashion Week at the Territorial Assembly of French Polynesia: a performance as memorial for the 50th Anniversary of France's bomb H explosion Canopus, in the form of a fashion presentation with 9 outfits retracing the history of clothing in Polynesia since 1st contact.  In 2018, NO'ANO'A, an installation at Marisa Newman Projects, NY, tackles colonial history in Polynesia through the specter of Paul Gauguin and the concept of painting in an irradiated and exotic landscape. In 2019, Nō taua tīruvi ra (A cause du Déluge - Because of the Flood) is executed on the largest wall of the CAC (Contemporary Art Center, Vilnius, Lithuania), part of the exhibition BLOOD and SOIL. The mural measures 5,5 x 42 meters and epically weaves, through visual puns, a history of modernism from the West, the East, and the primitive indigenous other it cannibalized in its process. For 2020 and 2021, Lee is at work on a series of new sculptures.


EDUCATION 

2004 M.P.S. Interactive Telecommunications Program, New York University, NY 

2002 M.F.A. Columbia University, NY 

2000 B.F.A. School of Visual Arts, New York, NY 

1999 Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France (Exchange Program)

1993 Atelier Letellier, Paris, France 


ONE-PERSON EXHIBITIONS 

2018 NO’ANO’A, Marisa Newman Projects, New York, NY 

2014 THE BOTANIST, Collectors Contemporary, Singapore 

2011 ALDÉBARAN RISING, Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA 

2010-11 THE TUPAPAU WITHIN (TE TUPAPAU MANAVA), Newman Popiashvili Gallery, New York, NY 

2009 EXPANDING-EEL-DEVOURER, San Diego Mesa College Art Gallery, San Diego, CA 

2008 RECITATIONS FROM THE GREAT FISH CHANGING SKIES, Kinkead 

Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA 

2007 THE DEPARTURE OF THE FISH: REDUX, Clementine Gallery, New York, NY 

2006 THE DEPARTURE OF THE FISH, Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA 


SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 

2019 BLOOD and SOIL - Dark Arts for Dark Times, curated by Anders Kreuger, CAC - Center for Contemporary Art, Vilnius, Lithuania

2018 Océans, curated by Stefanie Hessler, Le Fresnoy, Tourcoing, France 

2017 Tidalectics, curated by Stefanie Hessler, TBA21 / Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Wien, Austria 

2017 A Temporary Futures Institute, curated by Anders Kreuger, MHKA, Antwerp, Belgium 

2017 Middle of Now / Here, curated by Fumio Nanjo and Ngahiraka Mason, Honolulu Biennial, Honolulu, Hawaii 

2016 ‘ORAMA, Musée de Tahiti et des Îles, Tahiti, French Polynesia 

2014 MADE BY...FEITO POR BRASILEIROS, Matarazzo, São Paulo, Brasil 

2013 MANAVA, Musée de Tahiti et des Îles, Tahiti, French Polynesia 

Un-Natural Constellations, Newman Popiashvili Gallery, New York, NY 

2011 Pretty Vacant, Brooklyn, NY 

2010 Project Fellowship II, Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, New York, NY 

2009 Artwalk 2009, curated by Dimitrios Antonitsis, Hydra High School Project, Hydra, Greece 

2009 DIY WPA, curated by Joe Sheftel, Envoy, New York, NY 

2008 Always Kiss Me Goodnight, Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA 

2008 Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win, curated by Eric Shiner, Deutsche Bank, New York, NY 

2007 Distinctive Messengers, curated by Simon Watson, House of Campari, New York, NY

2005 NYC Bling Bling, Cinema Adriano, Modena, Italy 

2004 Projects I Want to Start and the Ones I Can’t Finish, Riviera Gallery, Brooklyn, NY 

2003 La Superette, Deitch Projects, New York, NY 

2003 One Minute Distractions, TRANSIENTnyc, New York, NY 

2002 Mondo Cane, curated by Elvis Richardson and Sally-Ann Rowland, LeRoy Neiman Center, New York, NY 

2001 Truancy, curated by Cheryl Kaplan, Art and Idea, New York, NY 

2000 Simili, curated by Julie Baranes, De Chiarra|Stewart, New York, NY 

2000 Yard Sale, curated by Barbara Pollack, Downtown Arts Festival, New York, NY 

1999 ZAC99, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France 

1999 Rencontres Internationales HORS CIRCUIT Paris/Berlin, Paris, France 


SPECIAL PROJECTS 

2014 THE BOTANICAL FACTORY, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV 

2013 MANAVA, Centre des Métiers d’Art and Musée de Tahiti et des Îles, Tahiti, FP 

2012 The Tracer of Lines, Multiplique Boutique, SParte, São Paulo, BR 

2009 Expanding-Eel-Devourer from the Great Fish Changing Skies, San Diego Mesa College Art Gallery, San Diego, CA 

2008 Drawing Recitations from the Great Fish Changing Skies, Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA 

2003 Forever Young: Spleen Cycle, Cunningham Studios, NY 

2002 Memory and Identity Workshop, Universitat Der Kunst, Berlin, Germany 

2001 OverTime, Computer Music Center, Columbia University, NY 

1999 Gare du Nord, Paris, France 

1999 St. Eustache, Paris, France 

1998-2002 >>MTRX-E - With participation from Vito Acconci, Brian Holmes, Claire Laronde, Rémie Marie, Jordan Crandall, and Xavier Laboulbenne 


SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 

2016 Schmitt, Dominique, ‘Orama: Un Oeil sur Notre Culture, Tahiti Pacifique, July 22 

2015 Lee, Alexander, The Botanist, Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas 1, 179-183 

2015 MANAVA, Centre des Métiers d’Art, cover 

2014 Bertaux, Isabelle, Les Enfants de l’Océan, Hiro’a, March 

DiGiovanna, Gina Rose, Artist Invites Visitors to Create ‘Botanical Factory’, Seven, Feb 12 

Baude, Dawn-Michelle, The Beauty of Alexander Lee’s Breadfruit Prints, The Weekly, Feb 5 

2013 Bertaux, Isabelle, Enrichir la culture ou parler de nous au présent, Hiro’a, June 

Bertaux, Isabelle, L’Histoire est à Nous, Hiro’a, April 

2012 Bertaux, Isabelle, Ils Font Bouger le Fenua, Les Nouvelles de Tahiti, December 22 

Bertaux, Isabelle, Résoudre des questions de forme et de fond, Hiro’a, December 

2009 The to-do list/art, Big Fish, San Diego City Beat, September 

2007 Valdez, Sarah, Alexander Lee at Clementine, Art in America no.11, December 

2007 Watson, Simon, New Artist Alexander Lee, Whitewall, Summer 

2007 Baker, R.C. Best in Show, Village Voice, May 16-22 

2007 West, Samantha, Alexander Lee, Placed, January 

2005 Konstantatou, Giota, Hydra Dimitrios Antonitsis presents: The Simple Life, Highlights no.17, cover 

2005 Koroxenidis, Alexandra, Contemporary Artists Question The Simple Life, Herald Tribune, August 18th 

2005 Fuoco, Michele, Nell, ex-cinema Adriano Mostra ‘NYC Bling Bling’” Gazetta Di Modena, January 28th 

2003 Franklin Sirman, Integrated Prada, Art Asia Pacific no.38, Fall 


LECTURES 

2017 Le Festival de l’Histoire de l’Art de Fontainebleau, Fontainebleau, France 

2016 TedX Papeete, Tahiti, Polynésie Française 

2016 Putahi IV at the University of Hamilton, Hamilton, New Zealand 

2015 Asian/Pacific/American Institute, New York University, New York, NY 

2015 Studio One, Auckland, New Zealand 

2011 Centre des Métiers d’Art de Polynésie Française, Papeete, Tahiti, Polynésie Française 

2009 San Diego Mesa College, San Diego, CA 

2008 Pasadena City College, Pasadena, CA 

2008 New York University, New York, NY 


PRIZES AND FELLOWSHIPS 

2008-2009 Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop Fellowship 

2000-2003 Lew and Edie Wasserman Scholarship Award 

2000-2002 Dean’s Fellowship, Columbia University 


Using Format