Born in Chongqing, Setzuan in 1945, Daniel Lee spent his youthhood in Taiwan. In 1968, he graduated from Fine Arts Department at Chinese Culture University with a major in painting. During the summer vacation of his junior year, he had a chance to participate in a film production, through which he initiated a strong interest in photography and filmmaking. Later in 1970, Daniel Lee went to the USA to study film and photography at Philadelphia College of Art. After graduating with a master’s degree, he started his career as a commercial photographer. He had worked as a photography consultant in an advertisement company since 1976. In th3 1980s, he expanded his career into documentary photography, impressing the world of photography with his delicate and refined visual aesthetics.
In the late 1980s, Daniel Lee started exploring the artistic expression in photography. He began with still objects, using optical adjustment to conduct multiple experiments on how colors can be visualized through photography. In 1992, he started to use digital equipment and programs to transform traditional optical photography into digital image, greatly expanding his individual artistic freedom. Since then, Daniel Lee has adopted unique animal-like human portraits to establish his personal artistic vocabulary. His works are worldly renowned and have been frequently invited to major exhibitions around the world.
Judge of Dead & His Guards comes from the Judgment series created by Daniel Lee in 1994. The author takes Chinese mythological characters as prototypes of the protagonists in this series. In continuation of the headshots, the half-human, half-animal figures are shown in half-lengths and sometimes full-lengths. Other than the eye-catching facial features, body language is used to form a powerful visual narrative and to enhance the theatricality of the photos.
During the mid-1960s when Daniel Lee was in college, Taiwan’s exports gradually improved and its economy grew with stability. Taiwan Television and China Television were established separately in 1962 and 1968. Meanwhile, the film industry was rapidly thriving and the booming business in TV, advertisement, and design opened a great amount of vacancies. In the summer of 1967, Daniel Lee found a job in the animation department of Kuangchi Organization. Highly recommended by the directors Pai Ching-Jui and Li Han Hsiang, he started to work as the art director in movie productions. In the 1970s, Daniel Lee also began as his career in New York’s commercial industry as an art director from the basic level. He took ten years to reach the level as the director in the photography department in an advertisement company. The continuously polished photography skill and artistic belief have thus become Daniel Lee’s best advantage in his future artistic practice.
Daniel Lee has once mentioned that buying his very first Macintosh in 1992 was the most important decision in his life – “like a tiger now with wings,” as he puts it. Computer offers photography a pair of wings, allowing it to make the impossible become possible. Such an expression indeed verifies how the popularization of personal computers and the development of image processing software revolutionarily influence the media of art-making. With the help of the “wings,” Daniel Lee liberates his solid photography skills and artistic practice from the limited forms and flies into a wider sky of art.
|English title：||Judge of Dead & His Guards|
|Medium / Classification：||Photography|
|Collection Unit：||Collection of the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts|
|Contact method for authorization：||
KAOHSIUNG MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS
|Related Exhibition：||"The Pioneers" of Taiwanese Artists, 1941-1950|
|Related Work：||12 Animals|