Western Project is proud to present the second solo exhibition by Los Angeles artist Patrick Lee. After a successful show in New York last year, the artist will present seven recent large scale drawings and a new video project. His continuing series, Deadly Friends, mines the transient and elusive definitions of masculinity. The artist has met and photographed hundreds of men on the streets of America over the past decade. Like a scientist, Lee has collected images of thousands of examples of physical attributes: scars, facial hair, tattoos, body muscle, talismans, etc. His primary interest is in the artifice of masculinity; the characteristics men acquire for money, sex, power and essential survival. Using photographs, Lee draws his subjects from numerous images; as composites or masks, using subtle or often times not subtle, physical traits and features.
It is Lee’s masterful draftsmanship which conveys his understanding of his subjects and the core issue of masculinity. Each image is hand drawn without Photoshop or digital assistance. Akin to a sculptor, the artist invests each facial pore and hair with microscopic detail so the image resonates as a complete emotional picture; an internal and external illumination. In the lineage of Chuck Close and Manet’s realism, Lee forges a contemporary investigation of class and gender roles. His conceptual drawings are compelling mirrors of our societal desire for alpha – heroic strength and control. Yet his subjects are not ideal figures for they embody other human traits such as pride, anger, or pain. As complex portraits, Lee’s images expose the illusion of ‘maleness’ as acquired, not necessarily inherent; external gender characteristics as ever changing and adaptable according to need; a game of adaption and replication to an end.
Lee is currently included in, “Drawings for the New Century,” at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. He has exhibited at Ameringer McEnery Yohe in New York, the Francis Young Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina, Maureen Paley Gallery, London, and the Marc Selwyn Gallery in Los Angeles. He is in the collection of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas. He is also a recipient of the Peter S. Reed Foundation grant for 2006.