Mindful Sojourner - The Art of Leroy Lee
Lee’s works are a manifestation of his perpetual exploration of the Eastern metaphysical spirit and Western philosophy at the heart of his practice. The artist considers his work both Chinese and Western, rising above dichotomous categorizations to, as he states, reflect another philosophical level, which is formless and immense.
Mindful Sojourner differs from Lee’s previous works in his use of more subdued earth tones as an attempt to closer link man with nature. In his painting Mindscape (2015), Lee uses hues of brown, orange, gray and white to create a vision reminiscent of both landscapes and cosmic imagery. Lee strongly believes in a universal connection between mankind and nature, and has begun using these classical earth tones in recent years to lead viewers toward the Daoist concept of fanpu quizhen–a return to simplicity and truth.
Explaining his transition away from stronger color contrasts, Lee states, “I have accumulated a lot of experience with layering colors. It’s about time to let it go, to return to nature. This is something that I have felt deeply in recent years, which I had not considered when I became an artist.”
Stillness and motion are also important elements in Lee’s work. He sees them as forms of existence for all things in the universe, as they vacillate between extreme contrast and harmonious balance. These elements are especially evident in Concerto (2014) in which strokes of blue and black radiate from the focal point of the painting, indicating motion, but stop short of two corners of the canvas that remain pure white, alluding to stillness.
In questioning these concepts of stillness and motion, Lee creates a dynamic that challenges viewers to consider the static medium of paintings in terms of the kinetic motion integral to their creation. As curator An-yi Pan explains, “Like a musician, Leroy Lee communicates with his audience, and through abstract imagery he generates a shared psychological response.”