Previews: New Works by Katherine Lee, with Fire, Flags and Sacrifice

Katherine Lee, who received her bachelor of fine arts at the College of Santa Fe in 2008, made waves several years ago with her exhibition Animal Violence and Topless Women Eating Jam, a grotesque yet intriguing show of drawings that garnered mixed reviews—but most certainly provoked a reaction. Lee’s upcoming solo show at Eight Modern is a return to painting, her usual medium, and unnerving architectural landscapes, her usual subject. In Exterior 23 (Overgrown Domestic Scene)a walled-in back yard shows clues of life—a still smoldering fire pit, a plastic table and chairs, an empty clothesline—but the landscape beyond resembles what the nation of Syria must look like nowadays. Death seems to lie low like the fog that is seeping in over the landscape. Although the painting is completely still, there is an aggressive violence that seems to roil just below the surface. A similar aura hangs above her painting Exterior 25 (Enemy), where the entry to an abandoned shop reflects what looks to be the beginning of a small inferno. Although Lee claims in her artist’s statement to be “concerned ultimately with little beyond the act of painting and the technical result,” and her technical abilities are indeed notable, her viewers might begin to think that there is something more complex going on in this young painter’s artistic subconscious.