Lee’s third solo exhibition at Eight Modern includes ten new oil and spray paint paintings, a continuation of her Exteriorsseries. Though unpopulated–at least by the living–each of these architectural settings are charged with possibility and suspended action. Elements such as still-smoldering embers in a disheveled yard or flames reflected in a storefront window open the works to countless potential narratives.
Lee’s title, With Fire, Flags, and Sacrifice,evokes a sense of ceremony and ritual, and touches on the air of loss that pervades the paintings. “There is more than function and decoration in the objects and creations we fashion,” the artist states. “I would like to know or sense more of what it is to be human through the things that other people have made, used, discarded, occupied or abandoned.”
Lee’s masterful oil painting technique creates compositional depth, hyper-real three-dimensionality, and intense visual detail. Though elements are rendered with meticulous accuracy, her paintings do not attempt to replicate reality. Her process involves culling seemingly disparate elements from snapshots she takes during her wanderings. She then merges the most compelling material, mixing the aesthetically arresting and the “visual trash” our memories often edit out, into new configurations of place and meaning.
“My fixation in this work is generated from a residue that exists in architecture and objects… I find eternal themes—shelter, death, enemy, creation, and so forth—while walking past strip malls, driving through parking lots, visiting Las Vegas, Nevada, or Venice, Italy,” Lee said. “And so I experiment in paintings, crafting believable places and coupling them with abstract emotional significance. And then there are my own idiosyncrasies and human choices that end up imprinted into the work. A sort of unfixed history develops.”
A resident of Santa Fe, Lee was born in Des Moines, Iowa and grew up in the rural Midwest. She received her B.F.A. from the College of Santa Fe in 2008. Her work is on view at the New Mexico Museum of Art from August 30, 2013 to January 19, 2014 as part of the exhibition Collecting is Curiosity/Inquiry. The artist was also prominently featured in curator Laura P. Della Monica’s recently published book, Painted Landscapes: Contemporary Views.