Maccarone is proud to announce Paul Lee’s Lavender, the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery.
Lee has expanded on his continuing lexicon, employing his deliberate materials into states suspended in transition. The towel, or washcloth, is most ubiquitous here, yet the artist’s presentation moves away from its usual implementation in favor of quietly-restrained, minimal form. Alluding to the grit that comes with human existence, while also defining a space of purity, Lee’s visual and literal idiomatic constructions serve as a muted study into the depths at which one “sees”. As Eileen Myles writes, “Paul Lee is a poet. His work strikes me as one of relationships… It’s post-technological, it’s not of this world, though he’s thinking intensely about it.“
With poetics perpetually infiltrating Lee’s work, wall-hangings and freestanding objects serve as metonymic webs drawn from everyday life and of a certain history. Lavender, at once an object in nature and a field of color, offers an access point into reading the codes of Lee’s pre-determined language. A departure from the artist’s singular, sculptural ready-mades give way to larger, resolved manifestations of Lee’s investigation of formal medium. Slight manipulations inform the 96 hand-sewn, reassembled washcloths installed solitary in one room. A stand-in for the body within Lee’s vernacular, the washcloths both reference its absence and presence, suggesting intimate human interaction and absorption. Yet here, these pieces achieve another identity, behaving as “stills”, objects suspended in process.
Two similarly-crafted film works offer an auxiliary meditation on the ideas of omnipresence and transition. Towels dyed by-hand have been cut and sewn into an extensive 35mm reel of film, the passing-through image then captured by an overhead camera. Within this reassignment of medium, texture is distilled as film. Seemingly abstract, these works in actuality represent cohesive, deliberate narratives of color delineating the passage of time. Another reel composed of a sliced, appropriated shower curtain appears adjacent, the image trapped in a constant state of in-between, representing neither the past nor what will proceed.
Colored panels act as pictorial spaces seemingly anchored via a corner – light passes through and falls behind their flaccid towels, calling to mind geometric color-field painting; yet in larger terms, these works explore how found objects can transform into a fusion of painting and sculpture, building upon the principles of Modern assemblage. Lee’s tambourine paintings, sculptural sacks, and mixed media collages interspersed throughout the gallery illustrate an elegance achieved via a few careful gestures of reinvention on what otherwise may be deemed marginal material. Lee’s poetics simultaneously assists and collapses the notion of illusion – and moreover – the singular meaning of an artwork.
Paul Lee was born in London and currently lives and works in NYC. Past solo exhibitions include The Chinati Foundation (Marfa, TX, 2009), and Peres Projects (Berlin/LA, 2008). Recent group exhibitions include “Every Night I Go to Sleep”(Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London, 2010), “Abstract America”(Saatchi Gallery, London, 2009), “Between Beach Ball and Rubber Raft” (The Contemporary Art Museum/St. Louis, 2009), “Mary’s Choice”, (curated by Mary Heilmann, 303 Gallery, 2009) and “The Station”, (curated by Shamim Momin/Nate Lowman, Miami 2008). Lee’s work was recently featured in the book “Role Models” by John Waters.