James Oscar Lee’s solo exhibition, Plodded Account, presents his most recent series of paintings which cinematically interact with one another in a way to tell a broader narrative: a drawn out address; a recollection of events.
James Oscar Lee is a Detroit-based painter and visual artist. His colorful abstract style and large-scale paintings are layered with figurative gestures and disrupted landscapes that each tell various narratives upon closer inspection. Lee studied Fine Arts and Design at Wayne State University, and was a participant of the Red Bull House of Art Artist Residency in 2013.
The paintings on view in Plodded Account were made in a four-month period prior and during a trip to Bulgaria. “I took in my surroundings and applied them to canvas and linen,” Lee explains. “The work comes together to tell a complete story through connective imagery and scenes coming from each individual piece, leaving the viewer to imagine their own tale.”
The stories come purely from my imagination and then become new stories and thoughts to the viewer. Each scene may draw a resemblance to create a connection or attachment- this could be drawn from any aspect of the image for each individual.
Do you recall when you knew you wanted to paint?
When I was about three years old, I had taken a roller and covered myself in paint. Since I could stand, I was always drawn or painting on objects around me, most of the time believing in no repercussions. To feel that way is cause for unbiased creation.
What concept are you most interested in exploring currently?
I am greatly interested in the intricate scenes and romantic portraits found in Renaissance Art. I have always loved the stories told by the sculptures and paintings, and so to create them in an abstract manner is an emotion for me that can be most beautiful.
The versatility and ease of acrylic makes thought-to-fruition a seamless process, but I do not believe someone should be tied down to just one medium. It is just means of projecting for everything can change and should. To work with pieces of larger scale you are able to contain more while smaller works within the painting that are waiting to be larger. Painting on a surface is something that cannot be replicated in the same manor as which it was applied originally, there is a great degree of fluid thought and application.
What inspires you?
During contemplation to organization and execution, sound has always connected ideas. The hyper-sensitivity on these waves brings harmony and completion to fruition. But generally speaking, human nature and reaction are inspiring to me, it shows new thoughts that reveal answers.
How long have you lived in Detroit?
I have lived in the Detroit metro area my whole life. My grandparents immigrated from Sicily, Italy in the early century along with my father in the 1940’s for work opportunity. I currently live in Detroit, where I also have my home studio.
Although the city does not come out in my work in a direct or obvious manner I am surely influenced by my environment- at the least subconsciously.
Has the theme that your work revolves around evolved over time?
The work changes and adapts with every series, and new techniques and habits are addressed. Over time, I have discovered that you can say more with less.
When I first started making work, I would add layer upon layer. Since then, I have learned to minimize the chaos and instead concentrate on the individual intricacies within the pieces with a large focal point as well as many other individual points of interest within.
How does color play a role in your work?
No hues are favored more than another, after placing all pigments in a single station they are picked to compliment each other. Once chosen, then the paint is mixed into smaller batches to create my vision. Each painting’s color palette rules the work and fortifies the emotion that is a result; without the proper colors, the strokes on each piece would be different leading to an endpoint.
What about your creative process have you found to be the most successful?
I do not have a preference on time of day, but rather the right time to create can happen at any hour. Working on multiple pieces at once enables me time for reflection and additional care towards each canvas, and this gives the ability to create freely.
I also make my own frames and stretch each canvas myself which allows me to control the size as well as the fabrics and resulting textures.
Spending the ‘correct’ amount of time with each work varies, until it feels complete. Because of this painting method, I am able to feel comfortable with the finished work and not force a painting to be completed.
Contemplation is just as important as action.
PUBLIC OPENING RECEPTION January 12th, 6-9PM
MEMBERS PREVIEW 5-6PM
MUSIC BY CLYDE MOOP PRESENTS SEGWAY LLC
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