Commonwealth and Council

sticks and stones soliloquy

Joseph Lee


The driving force behind Joseph Lee’s practice is a continued interest in deconstructing images. Entrenched in collage for the past  decade, Lee’s abstract sensibility speaks to the allegiance to “bits and pieces” rather than traditional narrative. Cut fragments of  architecture, graphic, textile, and fashion design magazines create a  trove of materials for his new paintings that offer points of improv.  

In the series, sticks and stones soliloquy, Lee forays into painting as an expansion of collage. Wax and oils with dense grays result in muted tones that absorb light rather than reflect on  the surface. Systematically, a simple white or black background is chosen to set up an equally stark foreground, where silhouetted shapes (sticks and stones) are suspended to create rhythm, cadence, and counterpoint. Situated in the middle is a compression of physiognomy of gender and textures of consumption.

Joseph Lee was born in Bangkok, Thailand.  He immigrated to Los Angeles in the early 70's where he currently lives and works. The diversity of place and experience was explored at Otis School of Art and Design where interfacing with the local shaped his early production. Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture soon followed, resulting in solo shows in LA and NY. His works are in the collections of Hammer Museum, New Museum, and notable private collections in the US.