Sunny Days: Mike Lee's Technical Mastery @ Over The Influence, Los Angeles
A highly-stylized female figure with a large hat is watering a neat little garden filled with blooming flowers. Only, her watering can is a crying, child-like figure, resembling her oversized hat as her flowers are reminiscent of small figures with arms raised in the air. In another scene, another female character is crying while watching TV drama and folding clothes. This time, the TV is another figure bent around itself with smaller figures for antennas, the clothes also having children-like shapes. There is another of a woman spanking a child, her tears surrounding the image in a heart-shaped frame, all inside a house-shaped image. Such beguiling images announce Sunny Days, a much-anticipated solo exhibition by Mike Lee, which will open on February15th at Over The Influence in Los Angeles.
Almost a year and a half since his last solo showcase I've Missed You, the NY-based artist is back with a major presentation that "communicates social attitudes and anxieties" through imagery channeling family life and home. Having a chance to produce and showcase his work on a scale larger than ever before (and in his hometown of Los Angeles) Lee has elevated his practice in every possible sense while focusing on the personal experiences of growing up in Southern California.
Sunny Days will take over the entire large exhibition space of Over The Influence (previously taken over by the likes of Vhils, Todd James and Shepard Fairey), presenting different stages of his upbringing with a large selection of paintings on canvas as well as a different scale sculptural and multimedia works. The long pause between shows has allowed Lee to introduce entirely new concepts, where his recognizable figures are brought into real world scenarios while using the stylized forms to amplify the crucial emotive undertones.
The new paintings "wrestle honestly between the melancholy of memory and idyllic, dreamlike possibilities." Rendered in oil on canvas, his bulbous characters and their dreamy surrounding is more profound and lustrous than ever before. Still putting a strong accent on the suggestive light as the ambience of the image, Lee is now confidently using personal narratives and construct poetic postcards. The void spaces around his subjects are now filled with landscape features and graphic elements, accenting the perspective and dynamics of the paintings. As well as the subject matter, a series on home-shaped canvases is makes an a simple yet strong gesture to a relation with the snapshots from his childhood and family moments. —Sasha Bogojev