JOHN LEE: Night Thoughts

16 March - 10 April 2021

I am feeling split, schizophrenic. An overwhelming sadness, then a dizzying numbness; frustrated and at a loss. Then I would change a green to a violet.

What is going on? What’s next? How do I continue? Question after question. Is this enough? Is the work honest with how I think and feel? More questions.


The paintings navigate between the different thoughts and emotions — perhaps tinged with a hope to feel whole. Mark after mark, the psychological and internal is made physical with paint. Working from imagination, this particular group of paintings were finished one-shot, in a silent frenzy of mark making and its erasure. Working wet into wet, the spontaneity and immediacy to complete the image while wet was crucial. This process allowed agency to respond to subjects and formal considerations with a surprising clarity. I am interested in the push and pull; the balancing of form and subject, and the relationships between them.

– John Lee



John’s work builds upon imagination and memory to construct a narrative that engages the physical and psychological spaces that are defined and naturalized in daily life.

The spaces are personified in a subtle interplay of tone, line and surface; each painting an ebb and flow of thin layers of oil paint and its erasure, which reflects the continuous changing of the physical and psychological spaces.

John’s depicted narratives are enigmatic, mere suggestions or impressions of a single or multi-layered story. The paintings resist a single read and call upon the viewer to actively engage them.