Patrick Lee: Deadly Friends / Drawings and Photographs / 2007

January 6 – February 10, 2007 Reception for the artist:  Saturday, January 6, from 5-8 p.m.

Western Project is proud to present the first solo exhibition by Los Angeles artist, Patrick Lee. Three years in the making, this show will include finished drawings and studies, as well as photographs from his Deadly Friends series. Lee’s drawings are painstakingly crafted over months of refinement. Inspired by photographs he takes of men from the streets of America, they convey a unique insight into class and gender ideals. Many subjects are ‘outsiders’ or ‘outlaw’ types; mimicked by pop culture icons and contemporary heroic figures.

The technical mastery of his work is only exceeded by the artist’s insight into the core of masculinity. It is the artifice of masculinity that is his primary theme – the characteristics men acquire for power, sex, money and basic survival. Lee has photographed hundreds of men over the past ten years, examining the nuances and complexity of this idea. Physical attributes such as tattoos, scars, body muscle, and facial hair are prevalent external elements.  These superficial adornments often combine as beautiful idealized images, or sometimes fearfully hideous mirrors.

Lee uses a number of different sources for each drawing. The result is a composite rather than an actual portrait of an individual. His images are like masks, but include other intangible facets: arrogance, pride, strength, pain, and anger. Combining the internal and external qualities, Lee’s work has the intensity of a grand scale yet is typically on 14 x 11 inch sheets of paper. It is the illusion of ‘maleness’ that Lee spikes, as a kind of temporary role, adapted, altered and expanded as men desire. It is the slipperiness of the male gender role that is disturbing in his work – the exposed closet of hair and clothing and attitudes which make it possible to challenge, mate, kill or control another human being. While DNA makes a man, it is the simple transient effects put in to place that create what we call, masculine.

Lee has exhibited at the Francis Young Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina, Western Project and the Marc Selwyn Gallery in Los Angeles, and 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.