Adam Lee: This Earthen Tent
Preview: Wednesday 23 August 6-8pm
Exhibition: 24 August - 30 September 2017
There is a day when the road neither comes nor goes, and the way is not a way but a place.
Wendell Berry, The Sabbath Poems, VII, 1997
Adam Lee's second exhibition with Beers London, entitled 'This Earthen Tent' presents a new series of work completed by the young painter in his barnyard-studio located in the Australian countryside. In these new paintings, Lee extends upon previous ideas within his work that explore the act of human pilgrimage and the experience of lamentation as a metaphor for the experience of painting. Perhaps influenced by his creative surroundings, this new series takes various interrelated narrative threads and technical approaches to consider how the temporality of human experience might coexist with ideas of transcendence (what the artist refers to as a ‘divine reality’). Themes of family, shelter, and a sense of protection tend to typify the paintings, evoking a sense of ethereality or nostalgia, but ultimately reflecting the artist's fascination with our longing for home, however evasive or mysterious that may appear.
As viewers, we quickly become privy to Lee’s apparent curiosity in archaic figures and a tendency toward imagery that is at once folkloric and fantastical. From the idyllic to the pastoral, Lee’s imagery includes shrine and tabernacles, funerary scenes or groups engaged in pilgrimage, often circulating around thehermit as a metaphoric figure or unwitting protagonist. Lee’s imagery seems almost canonical or procedural, certainly recognizable, but never formulaic. The works are often accompanied by a foreboding sense of regeneration, which has less to do with any sort of apocalyptic revelation, but rather what the artist views as a renewal, or an elevation of the everyday and the ordinary toward the suggestion of an emergence of a new world. In Lee’s paintings, it seems time converges; the past, future and present become one, and narratives become complex and indeterminable.
Recently, the artist has begun to describe his paintings as altar-like. Lee has a fascination with historic religious artworks, particularly with respect to their past function to connect the human gaze with a divine experience. Similarly, Lee’s paintings are intended as objects to draw us to contemplate abstract ideas and realms, as if through a veil. For Lee, each painting presents itself as a vessel to link two worlds: one of everyday human experience and the other glimpsed opaquely, as if occulted by the passing of time and the limitations of human understanding, while simultaneously weighted within the world of the here and the now.
ADAM LEE (b.1979, Melbourne, Australia) received his Bachelor of Arts, Fine Art (Painting) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of technology. Lee continued his studies with a Masters in Research In Fine Art from the Royal Melbourne Institute of technology and furthered his education with a PhD in Research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Lee's solo exhibitions include 'Lament Asunder' (All Dark is Midnight To Me) (2017) at STATION in Melbourne, a solo booth at VOLTA NYC with Angell Gallery in March 2017; 'Of A Great And Mighty Shadow' (2016), Angell Gallery in Toronto; as well as his first exhibition with Beers, entitled 'A Long Obedience' in 2015. Lee has been shortlisted for numerous awards including the Geelong Contemporary Art Prize (2014), The Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize (2014), The Churchie National Emerging Artist Award (2012/11), and many others. He has just completed the Stonehouse Glasshouse Residency in the South of France (Aug. 2017). Lee is represented by BEERS in London, Station Gallery in Melbourne, and Angell Gallery in Toronto.