LewAllen Galleries will present “Leave It at the Door,” an exhibition of new landscape paintings by Taos-based painter Jivan Lee. Painted primarily on location among the great mountains, rivers, and sunsets of New Mexico, Jivan Lee’s art is a visual testament to his close engagement with the land, as well as his visceral exploration into the raw material of paint itself. Yet his art emanates a sense of appreciation and reverence for the land beyond even its staggering beauty, and in so doing inspires the imagination. It is this sense of appreciation, combined with a fresh interpretation of the landscape and a deeply gifted eye for color and atmosphere, that has contributed to his growing reputation a revelatory contemporary artist working en plein air.
Rendering in thick paint and lush color, Lee’s tools include spatulas, broad brushes, and his own bare hands. Up close they celebrate paint for paint’s sake — luscious, colorful, moldable. In their opulent textures, his surfaces assume the felt sensation of earth, rock, water, and sky. When viewed at a distance, the paintings collect into studies of light, architecture, and land forms — a dazzling transformation that highlights the relationships between familiar image and raw material.
In his instinctual exaltation of the land, he makes palpable the immaterial experience of his beautiful surroundings and of his own physical relationship with his materials. “I experience a quality of gratitude and awe that only happens when I’m out in the elements,” Lee says. “It is a key ingredient that animates me and my work, and helps me step beyond my more habituated tracks of seeing, thinking, and acting.” This spirit may come from the openness with which Lee experiences the land, and with which he is conscious of bracing himself against any preconceptions about what he observes as he paints.
As the title of this LewAllen exhibition suggests, Lee is purposeful in his quest to dissolve his preconceptions about beauty, and in turn his viewers’. Lee is eager to dismantle those pristinely detailed images of landscapes we are accustomed to in favor of mountains, rivers, gorges, and mesas that ascend through miraculous, painterly color to a liminal place above specificity. Indeed, the more one takes in a Jivan Lee painting, the more it deepens into a collection of individual, abstracted moments: a truer, more expressive vision of the landscape, one where our preconceptions cannot blind us.
“Leave It at the Door” will be on view through July 29, 2018, at LewAllen Galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For more information, please visit www.lewallengalleries.com.