23 August 2019—Mine Project is pleased to announce “compo$ition&”, the solo exhibition of young American artist Austin Lee. Known for his super-saturated canvases combining abstraction and figuration, Lee presents a selection of recent paintings and foam sculptures—the latter, a new direction in his practice. “compo$ition&” continues his investigation into the influence of image editing software on the visual languages of painting and sculpture, offering a glimpse at his signature psychedelic stylings. Viewers wind through a series of characters, familiar yet strange, whose deceptively cheerful hues mask more subtle emotions.
While Lee’s works may appear to be entirely executed by computer software, they are in fact analog reproductions of sketches first made on iPad. Clownish, blob-like bodies hover in hyper-shallow space, their volumes curiously fluctuating between flat and full. The visual confusion his images stir can be likened to the experience of Op Art. Similarly, the emotions they convey teeter between gleeful innocence and cloying nostalgia.
Likewise, the characters featured in his sculptures appear expertly amateurish, precisely imprecise. Representing a new direction in his practice, Lee comments: “I’ve been thinking about the overlap between the sculptures I make using virtual reality and my paintings. I’ve heard people say that the sculptures feel like they came out of my paintings. Usually this is just one object coming out of a sculpture. I wanted to see what a sculpture would be like if everything from one of my paintings came out of the sculpture. The background, colors and all the different elements.”
For centuries in the history of Western art, the pursuit of painting was measured against its ability to produce a convincing facsimile of the real. A composition was intended to convey specific ideas and emotions, enhancing a sense of stability in the hierarchical structures governing nature. Conversely, Lee is obsessed with accurately recreating the unreal and the instability of contemporary perspectives.
About the Artist
Austin Lee (b.1983) lives and works in New York. He received an MFA in Painting from Yale School of Art and a BFA from Tyler School of Art. His most recent solo exhibitions include shows at Postmasters Gallery in New York, Carl Kostyal in London and Stockholm, Kaleidoscope in Milan, New Gallery in Paris and BANK in Shanghai.
Lee’s work has been written about in Artnews, Art in America, Artinfo, New York Magazine, Leap, Time Out New York and London, The NY Observer, Hyperallergic, Black Book, Dazed & Confused, Kaleidoscope Magazine, The Spectator, and Rhizome.