Sophie Lee

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What Is My Work About? 

My work is about the possibilities of paintings and space. I use the formal play of negative space, or the space in and around the subject matter as a metaphor for an ontological understanding of ways of being.  This inquiry manifests in different forms depending on the project. In some of the pieces, the center or subject matter is removed and the emptied space becomes the content in conjunction with the remaining marks. In others the center is displaced creating a psychology of mis ?remembering; the desire to piece the image back together relies on a logic that may or may not add up.  I?m interested in withholding information from the viewer, leaving gaps or slippages. I imagine an object as a metaphor for a person, and that these objects or subjectivities are constructed by the space inside and outside the boundaries of their form.

 

Artist Statement

My practice is project based, however all of the work is an inquiry into the possibilities of painting and the metaphorical resonances of space. Although the questions I pose for myself stem from painting, my definition of what constitutes a painting is an expanded one and distinctions between sculpture and painting are blurred; the “painting” often includes the surrounding architecture and the movement of the viewer within the gallery. Sometimes an individual piece is equally a sculpture and a painting as in the pieces in Construction Site; and sometimes as in Object Relations, the sculpture and the painting are made in unison, each entirely dependent on the other. The resulting forms are philosophical inquiries into perception, embodiment, and the history of abstraction.

My last body of work, Object Relations, is comprised of three components: a collaged painting, a sculpture, and a shelf connecting the two. The work interrogates the space of the painted panel, the space between the sculpture and the two dimensional work, as well as the space of the viewer and the interaction of the viewer to the objects. This layered experience is meant to make explicit the act of viewing art objects, their relationship to each other and our relationship to them. There is an oversized shelf directly in front of the painting placed in such a way that the viewer can only see it from a distance, and there is a sculpture in their line of sight. This creates a dynamic where the desire to see has to be navigated spatially as the viewer maneuveres around the display. The sculpture and the painting are dependent on each other, they are two components of the same piece separated, yet connected in our visual field. Working within the language of abstraction, the pieces ask how visual meaning is made through a myriad of spatial relationships. I’m intrigued by the idea that meaning is not contained to one object, but is made in relation to others. I imagine an object as a metaphor for a person, and that these objects or subjectivities are constructed by the space inside and outside the boundaries of their form. I find this a philosophically compelling model to make work from.

The kernel of these ideas began with the body of work called Construction Site. I began by making gestural marks on pieces of drywall inserted in the center of frame like three dimensional structures. I then removed the ground leaving only the partial gestures on the perimeter. With this removal, I created an experience where the viewer had to complete the image in their mind’s eye while negotiating the background and foreground which included the surrounding architecture, environment, and other gallery goers. I wanted the viewers to influence each others experience through the way they moved, posed, and interacted with the pieces. The meaning of the works was made through the audience’s interaction with the objects, and the perceptual experience was not stable. The objects related to both the body and architecture in that they manipulated the environment through actively influencing the way bodies moved through the space.

My new body of work is a culmination and continuation of these ideas. Cutting a hole into the surface of a panel, I return the removed section in order to paint the surface while responding to the lines from the cut. I then remove the cut interior and shift it, either within the original piece, or to another piece. These operations disrupt the unity or wholeness of the painting, The negative space includes the white of the wall. In some of the pieces, the center or subject matter is removed and the emptied space becomes the content in conjunction with the remaining marks. In others, the center is displaced creating a psychology of mis –remembering. The desire to piece the image back together relies on a logic that may or may not add up. I’m interested in withholding information from the viewer, leaving gaps or slippages. The replaced interior is never glued down, and gravity holds it in place. This contingency, that it will shift when moved, activates the piece, adding a dynamic tension.

 

CV

Born in Perth, Western Australia

Live and works in Los Angeles, California

 

EDUCATION

2011  MFA, Studio Art, University of California, Irvine California

2003 BA, Mills College, Oakland California

 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2013 “Object Relations,” Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles 

2012 “Sunday Paintings,” Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2014 “Packed and Jammed,” Glendale College Art Gallery, Los Angeles

2012 “Constructing Fantasy,” Beacon Arts Building, Los Angeles

2011 “Plain Brown Wrapper,” Human Resources, Los Angeles

“My head is falling out, so I’m standing on my stomach, “The Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena

“Hanging Gardens,” Beacon Arts Building, Los Angeles

“Nothing Comes From Nothing,” Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles

“MFA Thesis Exhibition,” Contemporary Arts Center, University of California Irvine

2010 “Ground Control,” Room Gallery, University of California Irvine

 

AWARDS AND GRANTS

Runner’s Up, Alice C. Cole Fellowship, 2014

Nominee, Dedalus Foundation MFA Fellowship in Painting and Sculpture, 2010

Resident Fees Graduate Fellowship, UC Irvine, 2008-2011

Mills College Scholarship, 2002, 2003

 

RESIDENCIES

The Millay Colony, 2014