On Brian Lee

Abstract painting came about as a reaction to the five-hundred-year-long domination of realism in western art.

It has offered us a new way to 'see', even if it has opened up a space for highly questionable work that is without merit. Once in a while, an artist comes along 'who breathes a new vision into this genre'.

This is especially true with works by skilled painters who combine preparation with natural and spontaneous execution; Brian Lee is one of those rare painters. Today, the contemporary art scene is a wilderness littered with bad art and I define 'bad art' simply as art that is vacant of feeling. Lee's art is a refreshing call in the wilderness, it is alive and celebrates life, it is redeeming. His paintings are not ideas that are freeze-dried, aiming to impress academia. There is a genuine tie to human experience, which is quite natural when a painter is more involved in probing the essence of life, the invisible behind the visible, than in echoing the chaos of the world around us that is self-evident.

Brian's works are inspired by an integral sense of place. The places and realms he conjures up seem almost musical, where lyrical fields of brush strokes, form and color, give rise to a soft symphony where the occasional wandering spirit has taken refuge. Lee infuses these abstract realms with a deep, fervent spiritual feeling; spaces that are both real and imagined. Sometimes these places are very familiar and at other times they lay just beyond the depiction of recogizable objects, having gradually stripped them of any superfluous vestiges and where the 'realm of feeling' becomes paramount. The paintings become a visual music where rhythm demands richness but also terseness and purity. His paintings combine the denseness of oil paint with the lightness of air and the movement of water. Having blurred the territorial boundaries between abstraction and representation, he has made ambiguity a positive and central element in his art. We can call this ambiguity or we can call this freedom. In this freedom he organically fuses a dignified, confident manner, which is centered, with a powerful unrestrained momentum.

The artist's quest for insight into the essence of nature and form that underlies our chaotic world, has given the colors and forms in his paintings a strong power of communication. The language is honest, uninhibited and profound, the results springing from his palette to his canvas, sometimes with explosions of color. There are bombardements of clouds, waves and outpourings of molten lava. Waves roll and crash, steam rises where waves hit heat, combining forces - pulling and tugging; there is constant movement. But the paintings are always human, always more than palpable and full of feeling; the atmosphere of the place softening what would have been an overwhelming outpouring. It is as though Brian begins his work by constructing a creative landscape that literally invites a host of forms and feelings to visit; inhabiting his work like spectral entities and giving us an illumined message. In not just looking at Brian's work, but in seeing it, we notice how his forms begin to fuse, in different proportions, into 'One', like an alchemy of art, in which the spirit of one element transmutes into the next. Alchemy plays a strong role here: it is a tale of transmutation of the psyche as told through the heart.

These paintings are pure magic; the fusion of spirit and matter.

Prof. Philip Rubinov Jacobson, Artist, Author and Educator
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