Going Down Under: Rhys Lee Presents Series of New Paintings @ Nicholas Thompson Gallery, Melbourne
Following the tradition of an annual solo presentation that started back in 2015, Nicholas Thompson Gallery is currently running the final week of Recent Paintings of new works by Rhys Lee. The artist told Juxtapoz, "The show came about by me painting for six months, thinking I would be showing 10 large paintings at the Melbourne Art Fair in Australia this month. However, the fair was pushed forward to February 2021 thanks to COVID-19 lockdown, so Nicholas Thompson offered me a show at the gallery this June and a show at the Fair February 2021."
"I’m showing smaller paintings and fewer paintings. The current show is basically a truncated version of what it would have been originally." This reshuffling of plans has not slowed down the prolific artist who's been exhibiting extensively around the globe lately. From solo exhibitions with Julien Cadet Gallery in Paris last year and Paul Nache in New Zealand in February, as well as group presentations in LA, France, Belgium, and The Netherlands, Rhys Lee's labor-intense work appeals to art fans of varied predilections. The new exhibition is comprised of 10 paintings on display at the gallery, along with a series of works on paper that are presented online only.
Alluding to his common thread, the artist explains how "The works in the show are connected through line and form, except Flip The Frog. I’ve been looking at Picasso and Condo a lot and I keep coming back to the cubist aesthetic. It takes me back to my graffiti-filled youth, with hard lines, shape, shadow, color, and mess." Lee's seamless blend of traditional art influences and equally classic graffiti elements results in raw pictures where process, surface, and texture are as important as content, most notably in pieces, such as The Juggler #4 or The Handler, in which Picasso-esque aesthetic is applied around Vaughn Bodē-like characters.
Often experimenting with popular tropes and images the artist enjoys maneuvering recognizable images until they transform into new and unexpected creations, which challenge and entertain as figures dissolve into outline or background. Such inventiveness where color, thickness, or even underscoring of outline creates constant surprise. The artist is currently working towards a January show at Avenue Des Arts in L.A and the rescheduled presentation at the Melbourne Art Fair in February 2021 with Nicholas Thompson Gallery. —Sasha Bogojev