My Quiet Revolution

Since this is my first post of the new year, I’d like to share an image of my newest work:

VerticalDistortion5,2014,22.5x30inVertical Distortion 15, 2014, acrylic on paper, 22 1/2″ x 30″

I made these while working out ideas for my next large scale paintings on canvas. To see all five works on paper, click here. I have three large canvases stretched and ready to apply this idea. These might be my final works made in Spain.

Since my show finished up in November, 2013 at Sporting Club Russafa, I have been distributing the sold works to their new homes. One painting went to a collector in Singapore and it was nice to see another find a home right here in Valencia:


It seems that more and more I am noticing a quiet revolution in the art world. Whether or not this will have an impact on the commercial gallery or museum realm remains to be seen. A couple of months ago I discovered the article, “White Cube, White Noise”, calling out the absurdities of exhibition press releases. The writer apologized rhetorically to one artist whose work was over described in a painfully snobbish and incomprehensible way. But rather than bash her way through the list of horrible press releases and end there, the writer finished on a high note with the discovery of a beautifully crafted example. The happy ending to this article was a simple and elegant poem offered in place of the traditional drivel and it was sublime.

This month I have found yet another article, “Alain de Botton: How Art Can Make Us Happier. By thinking too much and feeling too little, we are missing out on the true enjoyment of art, philosopher Alain de Botton tells Alastiar Sooke.”

In it Alain de Botton asks, “…are museums fundamentally missing the point of what art is all about? … The art establishment downplays emotional or psychological readings of pictures – even though these are the principal ways in which people actually engage with art. But I think that you have to start with the emotional bond between the viewer and the object. If you say that a painting is important because it was owned by so-and-so, or because it shows that fascism is bad, or whatever – these are not reasons to love a painting.”

My quiet revolution has begun here. With a huge sense of relief, I can offer my work to viewers the way I always wanted to. My work is about how it makes you feel and if it enriches your life, you love it, and want it then you’ll be a fulfilled and happy owner. In the article Alain de Botton offers, “I want to give viewers the courage to bring more of themselves to a work of art, and to ask them: what ultimately do you think? Is it a cheerful picture? If so, let’s not be embarrassed about that feeling.”

I have always personally responded to art with my gut. My first live encounter with a Van Gogh painting at the Musée d’Orsay when I was 15 years old remains with me to this day. I was literally knocked off my feet and was glad to find a bench as I stumbled backwards. As with this day in Paris, there was no amount of art theory that could explain a similar experience when the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles displayed their entire collection of Mark Rothko paintings.

Back in the real world I was thrilled to receive this photo from a collector in Berkeley, California of one of my paintings from the 2010 Ezero series installed in her recently renovated office:

ChrisLeeOfficeThe interior design is by Lilia Fulton of Narrative Interiors and the photo is by Robert J. Schroeder Photography.

Thanks to an article in the New York Times, I recently discovered and started reading an art blog called Hyperallergic. I really like the breadth of content of the blog and one of my favorite sections is called Required Reading. It is a weekly column that scours the web for articles published about art with key paragraphs (or video clips) sited to bait you to the full article. My search for more evidence of an art revolution begins here.

This month’s music: Arctic Monkeys

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