Monday, August 30, 2010

Can you see it?

Rhys Lee, Sanstone Cherry Smack, 2010.
Image via
Internet Work 

Being an art history student I always seem to link the present with the past, referring to the previously mentioned theory which argues art always refers to its history.  I can’t help but try to obsessively search for clues to prove this theory and I think I may have found one in Jan Murphy’s current exhibition of Rhys Lee.

Rhys Lee is a Melbourne based artist, originally focused on street art he has moved on towards figuration abstraction. In Lee’s work we see a mutilation of figuration, resulting in grotesque forms which seem to be of another world.  The figure in Truth 2010, with its angular, animal like face  resembles primitive figuration of Picasso’s African movement, most commonly articulated in his Les Demoiselles d'Avignon 1907. The use of colour blocking by varying colours and shades to create depth and multiple perspectives in Picasso’s work, has been played with in Truth to create a sense of flatness.  
Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907.
Image: Google Images

Rhys Lee, Truth, 2010.
Image via
Internet Work

Not only does his work play on the pops of colour so commonly found in street art, it is of equal importance in its referral to fauvism. The movement arose in the early 1900’s exemplified in the work of French artist, Henry Matisse and later Francis Bacon. The work of ‘Les fauves’ was articulated through sickenly bright colours and “spontaneity and roughness of execution” (Perez-Tibi). Paint was originally executed raw however, here Lee manipulates the technique through the use of significantly duller acrylics.   

Henri Matisse, Portrait of Andre Derain, 1905.
Image: Google Image

Francis Bacon,  After Muybridge-Study of the Human Figure in Motion-Woman Emptying a Bowl of Water and Paralytic Child on all Fours, 1965.

Standing only inches away from Lee’s work I saw this Fauvian spontaneity, evident through brush hairs left behind on the canvas and  his visible rushed brush work. It is interesting to see how artists like Rhys Lee take stylistic movements from the past and evolve and adapt them.

 Although Jan Murphy Gallery is limited in space, thus the exhibition layout is predictable and bares no surprises; Rhys Lee’s work is defiantly worth seeing. If not for my theorized links with art history then for his ghost like figures that attempt to create another worldly reality.

Rhys Lee is on at Jan Murphy Gallery until the 4th of September.

Bonne journée


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