Return to regular site view

David Lee

Imagine a garden where peace and tranquility reign. Trees and flowers in romantic hues where distant mountains beckon quietly. Flowers are petal soft - alluring. This is the world of David lee. "I do not copy nature," says David Lee, "I interpret it. I will memorize a scene by painting it in my mind. Then, when I return to the studio, my art becomes the interpretation of a very personal remembrance."

David Lee was born in Canton, China and raised in Hong Kong. Respecting his father's wishes he enrolled in medical school at Taiwan University. Three years later he entered the National Chinese Painting Competition. "My father and I struck a bargain," he relates. "If I won the competition, I would be allowed to study art instead of medicine, as was my dream." His father agreed, but didn't take the bet seriously since winners of the prestigious contest were usually older, established and very experienced artists.

Lee spent nine months preparing for the grueling competition. When it was over, he emerged with first place honors as once of the youngest Chinese artist ever to do so. Lee's father honored the bargain and allowed him to attend the Far East Academy of Art in Hong Kong, where he received his degree.

Lee came to Hawaii in 1970 and attended Brigham Young University while teaching courses in Chinese art. To supplement his teacher's salary, he began selling his work at the Honolulu Zoo fence, along with dozens of other artist. "No matter how many paintings I took each time, I sold them all," Lee recalls. In those days, his paintings sold for $250.00 - $300.00. Today they range in price from $2,500.00 to $60,000.00. He continues to call the island his home saying, "What appeals to me in art and technique is a melting together of Eastern and Western ideas. Hawaii offers the world's greatest example of this phenomenon, all mixed together with the magic of Aloha."

Lee is not only a master of technique, he is also an artist of innovative importance. Trained in the classical tradition of Oriental brushwork, Lee was taught to expand his imagination, not simply to reproduce what nature presents. In time he perfected his own rich sense of composition and style, combining the delicate loveliness of natural pigments on silk, 24 kt gold and rice paper.

From Western tradition, Lee has gathered his famous sense of structure and pattern. Many of his painted elements, for instance, are more than what they seem. His misty mountains and bamboo leaves are often pure design, unique in themselves and part of a total balance of composition.

David Lee's paintings are superbly peaceful and timeless. He revels in the essence of all things natural. In wonderful dreamlike images, he expresses the harmony that abides all around us, capturing it with a radiance that is always alive and new. Like a poet he casts a spell of irresistible enchantment.

The works of David Lee have been heralded by critics and collectors from Asia to America to Europe. Unquestionably one of the world's most popular artists, he has earned a place in over 300 museums, universities and galleries and corporate collections for his gifted art.)

To view more of David Lee's artwork, please visit