Tales of the Flesh 2: Born Adversaries : Carole Caroompas / Patrick Lee / Aaron Sheppard

October 13 - October 24, 2016
Open Thursday through Sunday, 12:00 - 4:00 PM

Opening Reception Thursday October 13, 5:00 - 9:00 PM

4619 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016

Carole Caroompas Fairy Tales: Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), 1989, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 84 inches

Carole Caroompas
Fairy Tales: Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), 1989, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 84 inches

Western Project is proud to present a group exhibition, Tales of the Flesh Part 2: Born Adversaries, featuring Carole Caroompas, Patrick Lee and Aaron Sheppard at FOUR SIX ONE NINE (4619 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016) Each artist works and lives in Southern California and has exhibited numerous times with the gallery. This special pop up exhibition highlights a second look at work that addresses the human figure as a narrative source. All three artists work with the body/figure as an origin of story telling for political, social, historical and/or erotic purposes.

Carole Caroompas is perhaps the most underrated yet influential painter of her generation, producing 30 plus years of hard-core figurative works unlike any other female counterpart. As an artist she is no Joan of Arc martyr of the early feminist moment, but more the Hindu Kali figure disrupting and fiercely reconfiguring ideas and images. Caroompas has never settled for simplistic questions or answers, and her work has never been polite. It challenges our notions of power and gender, and relationships between men and women, most often in large, epic scale works; monster-scale cosmologies dissecting our cultural assumptions of what is normal and/or true. Her use of collaged imagery creates a fragmented, non-linear narrative; on first glance appearing as the dream-like nature of the mind but is instead a highly organized composition. Her signature format is a visual and conceptual overload: a Surrealistic collage aesthetic on steroids.

Included in this exhibition are works from the series, Fairy Tales (1988 - 1990), and Before and After Frankenstein: The Woman That Knew Too Much (from 1991 - 1994).  In these pieces Caroompas reworks our assumptions - as she has written “to deconstruct sexist and authoritarian perspective in order to retell and reconstruct the narrative”. It is a kind of gleeful (and theatrical) remapping or rewriting of cultural binary norms: scripting alternate histories and myths as incisive new sets of possibilities. In both the Grimms’ Fairytale series and Before and After Frankenstein: The Woman Who Knew Too Much, the artist uses a heavy dose of humor to cajole the viewer through her kaleidoscopic imagery. Violence, sex and humor become a lethal combo, echoing the exciting and disturbing films of Russ Meyer or Quentin Tarantino. The difference is, she is not kidding. In the same way science fiction can talk about psychological and ethical issues (a la Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein), Caroompas’ tales evoke hopes of a new world; outlaw at first glance, ultimately as romantic as the Sex Pistols Here Comes The Bullocks. In our age of seven billion plus hall monitors, it is remarkable to witness conviction without compromise.

Patrick Lee Deadly Friends (Bullet Chain), 2014, graphite on paper, 16 x 1

Patrick Lee
Deadly Friends (Bullet Chain), 2014, graphite on paper, 16 x 1

The drawings of Patrick Lee have for twenty years dealt with the poignancy of human experience. Creating immensely detailed portraits of real people found on the streets of America, his work has a profundity and presence not typically found in academic portraiture. Quite possibly because he is interested in people on the fringe of American culture: the poor, addicted, abused or unlucky. His graphite drawings are typically one and a half size larger than human scale, producing a monumentality unassociated with depictions of the downtrodden. Using photographs of his subjects as well as long interviews, Lee is able to conjure a likeness that has tangible feeling more than pure accurateness. He is fascinated with ideas of masculinity: how it is acquired and developed for power and sex, along with its shifting qualities. His interest in the outer edges of society are its’ reflection; appearances mask the vital essence of our humanity. Unlike the bleak realism of Ingmar Berman’s films, Lee’s images are perhaps more similar to the humanist film work of Jean-Luc Goddard. Lee’s images point only to the subjects, not the artist or the art world. His drawings emanate a kind of dignity and respect that is not romanticized or illustrated. It appears only in the minds’ recognition of a tangible ‘us-ness’ of his images. They are us and we are them: scarred, tattooed, drugged and impoverished. But simultaneously magnificent.

Aaron Sheppard is an artist’s artist. His work traverses painting, sculpture, drawing, performance, and installation. The new Double Wide With Hydra, is his version of Dürer's Feast of the Rosary from 1506. Sheppard’s sensibility has always appeared profane, gritty and often taboo, but internally contains the humility of spiritual adoration. He thematically hopscotches across time, history and styles often using classical compositions as a trope to explore more fluid ideas about desire and sexuality. From the formal religious painting Feast of the Rosary, Sheppard has created a circus barge of characters:

“A Victorian mermaid queen with two vaginas allows Dante closer examination of her "second beauty". Baby Jesus fish crowns Captain Nemo while he himself gets crowned by the fangs of Leviathan. Eek the Geek waits in line to meet the Mer-Queen, as do characters from Alice in Wonderland, a pregnant Zulu princess, Judas, a dragon, a clown, a cannibal, Death...even Dürer himself. They flank her like kids at the mall waiting to sit on Santa's lap. A barker donning Gallagher's top hat hands out halos and urinates on the crowd."

Aaron Sheppard DETAIL: Double Wide with Hydra , 2016, mixed media, 90 x 216 inches

Aaron Sheppard
DETAIL: Double Wide with Hydra , 2016, mixed media, 90 x 216 inches

He often presents human biological variation as  gifted saints come to deliver a different message: life is all forms, and desires all forms. Mary as mermaid with two vaginas. Is this reverence, blasphemy or Bhakti? Is this a divine freak show? Dante is beguiled and bewitched by his desire as are all the figures surrounding the mermaid. This work addresses his question, “is it not possible to have earthly and heavenly delights simultaneously? Use and enjoy it all while still properly expressing love? Have your cake and eat it too (without losing/off with your head)?”

Sheppard’s enormous 20 foot painting is mural size, nearly identical to the scale of Ensor’sChrist’s Entry Into Brussels from 1889. Both share an expressionistic quality and energy; each event stylistically depicted with grotesque figures enhancing the pathos of human drama. Additionally, his paint quality is forcefully ragged yet calculated. It is a kind of pop or camp expressionism, able to suggest the emotionality and fervor of sex and desire; a fury of exaggeration in which Life is seen as flourishing.

The right panel of Double Wide may contain another moral tale: in a cave Hercules is battling the Leviathan threatening the mermaid, while his own penis is sprouting into the Hydra itself. Consumed by one’s own craving? It is perhaps the similar path.

Sheppard gives no answers except to suggest that the complexity of mortal life is to be enjoyed; variance is a gift, the pageantry is to be participated in, and living is immediate and vital. However in another moment, he writes, “I don’t know what it is all about. Fantasy and fish, piss and cherub cock…”


It is all good. 


Carole Caroompas’ work was recently include in, Romancing the West: A Legacy of American Images, William Roland Fine Art Gallery at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California and Lore and Behold: The Art of Carole Caroompas, at The Boone Family Gallery at Pasadena City College, Pasadena California. She has exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, LACMA, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in D.C. She has also been the recipient of numerous artist grants such as, National Endowment for the Arts (twice), The Esther and Adolph Gottlieb Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. 

In September 2016, Patrick Lee is the subject of a Solo Exhibition and Drawing Workshop at the Huntington Museum of Art, West Virginia. He has had numerous national and international exhibitions. He was included in, Drawings for the New Century, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, B-B-B-BAD, an exhibition with attitudes, at Anna Kustera Gallery, New York, Male at Maureen Paley Gallery, London, UK, curated by Vince Aletti, and Lush Life at Salon 94, New York. He has also 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, University of La Verne, La Verne, California, Howard House in Seattle, Washington, and the Marc Selwyn Gallery in Los Angeles, California. He is in the collection of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Georgia Museum of Fine Arts, Georgia, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas. He is also a recipient of the Peter S. Reed Foundation grant for 2006.

Aaron Sheppard recently appeared in the Nameless Skypeband performing at Sraatliche Akademie Der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe (Academy of Fine Arts, Karlsruhe, Germany), performed and inaugurated Bearded and Shucked, 1st Annual Mermaid Parade, Joshua Tree, California. He is a recipient of the Peter S. Reed Foundation Achievement Award. He has had solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria, Volume 1E Brooklyn, New York, and galleries in Tokyo, Beijing, London, Las Vegas and Washington DC. Sheppard has performed in “Conceptualizing the Body: Gaze, Masquerade, and Spectacle”, at SUNY College in Old Westbury, New York, the Fringe Festival in Australia, and shown video in, Maid in China(town), Chinese Biennale, Ku Art Center, Beijing China. His work has been written about in BOMB magazine, Artillery, The Huffington Post, Las Vegas Weekly, among many others.


11 YEARS - Anniversary Group Show: December 6 - 23, 2014

11th year Anniversary Exhibition

Ron Athey / Josh Bolin / Daniel Brice / Thomas Burke / Carole Caroompas / Cole Case / Alec Egan / Samantha Fields / Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose / Tim Forcum / Eric Freeman / Sush Machida Gaikotsu / Margaret Griffith / Dion Johnson / Ali Kheradyar / Patrick Lee / Joe Lloyd / Zachari Logan / Bob Mizer / Matthew Penkala / Nancy Riegelman / Chad Robertson / Joe Schmelzer / Nicolas Shake / Aaron Sheppard / Arne Svenson / Christian Tedeschi / Tom of Finland / Mark Dean Veca / Wayne White / Jessica Wimbley

Western Project proudly presents our 11th Year Anniversary Exhibition marking a decade and a year of programming. As one of the pioneer galleries of the Culver City arts district, the show will include gallery artists and some special guests; each an irregular, unruly and often impolite force of nature, all burdened with the disease of individual thinking and a call to find a greater depth of human experience. We celebrate with abandon and humor, knowing our job is yet unfinished.

Patrick Lee at Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe April 25 - May 25, 2013

PATRICK LEE25 April–25 May 2013



NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AMERINGER | McENERY | YOHE is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent drawings by Patrick Lee. The exhibition will open 25 April and will remain on view through 25 May 2013. A public reception for the artist will take place 25 April between 6:00 and 8:00 PM.

The subjects portrayed in Patrick Lee's graphite drawings are threatening and aggressive in appearance. The artist approaches these men on the streets of Southern California and photographs them as studies for his drawings. This dialogue and interaction is an essential part of his process.

Hand drawn and resolved over many months, the artist diligently - even scientifically - renders muscles, pores, scars, tattoos, and facial hair in painstakingly accurate photorealistic detail.

Lee opens an inquisitive dialogue with the hyper-masculine visages of these men, studying behavioral patterns and intricate symbols of identity, and exploring the ways that these men communicate and amplify their projected self-images, the armor that protects and codifies them on the street, in their gangs, and in prison. The subjects are individuals with pride, stoicism, strength, and hostility, but Lee focuses his attention on their gaze and expression, moving beyond their often forbidding physical exteriors to expose their humanity, revealing their underlying light, warmth, and vulnerability.

Lee's devotion to the observable world and to human sentiments is manifoldly evident in his work. The artist is able to make these men - reticent in the real world - approachable to the viewer in a way that is daringly captivating. Moving beyond the hostility the subjects might project in real life, Lee gives the viewer a moment, undeterred by fear, to witness, contemplate, and relate with the subjects over the common truth of projected and perceived identities.

Patrick Lee was born in 1969 in Butte, Montana, and he graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design in 1988. Lee is the recipient of the 2006 Peter S. Reed Foundation Achievement Award, as well as the Nikon 2000 Grand Prize.

Lee has had numerous national and international exhibitions. Recent solo exhibitions include such venues as Western Project, Los Angeles, CA, and Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe, New York, NY. Recent group exhibitions include "Drawing for the New Century," Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN; "B-B-B-BAD...an exhibition with attitudes," Anna Kustera Gallery, New York, NY; "Male," Maureen Paley Gallery, London, UK, curated by Vince Aletti; "Do I Know You," Inman Gallery, Houston, TX; "Lush Life," Salon 94 Freemans, New York, NY; and "Cherry Pie," Western Project, Los Angeles, CA. His work may be found in the permanent collections of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.

Patrick Lee lives and works in Los Angeles.

Patrick Lee: Deadly Friends

Tracey Harnish,  Huffington Post,  July 27, 2011

Patrick Lee, Deadly Friends (Head #16), 2008 Graphite on paper 36 x 24 inches

Photorealism does not especially intrigue me, but in Patrick Lee's work, the technique is just the starting point for further revelations. Lee's graphite portraits of men are meticulous down to the very pores that sprout whiskers. The figures are set in a style reminiscent of the early 1900s, with heads floating in a limbo of whiteness, and I am reminded of the decades old black and white photos of my grandmother's family. Yet these portraits are startling contemporary insights into the society of men. Bald heads, scars, tattoos and ethnically diverse, these men virtually wear the stories of their lives on their necks, faces, and heads. In a culture where youth is trumpeted no matter the class or color of the individual, it's an interesting relief to see men, instead of kids, depicted here. These are men who clearly have lived lives of intensity and peril and are part of a society that signals their wounds with physical visuals.

The story of each image reads masculine and macho, yet with the squint of an eye or the tilt of a head, vulnerability is suddenly revealed. Not only is a personal story told, but a sliver of our society is laid bare as well.

One of the standout pieces is an image of the back of a shaven head, where a large puckering scar curls from the top of the head and ends at a big protruding ear. This declaration of violence survived is like the map of a life, one that most gallery goers are familiar with only through film and TV. By making this image worthy of a portrait, a portrait being something remembered, valued, and even passed down to future generations; it becomes a testament to the continuation of life.

-- Tracey Harnish,  Huffington Post



Western Project - The First Six Years / Group Show / 2009

November 7 – December 30, 2009 Opening reception Saturday November 7th 5-8pm.

Jason Adkins, Oliver Arms, Ron Athey, Tanya Batura, Heimir Björgúlfsson, Daniel Brice, Thomas Burke, Carole Caroompas, Cole Case, Exene Cervenka, Kris Chatterson, Justin Dahlberg, Michael Dee, Tom of Finland, Eric Freeman, Sush Machida Gaikotsu, Martin Gunsaullus, Ellina Kevorkian, Patrick Lee, Bob Mizer, Michael Reafsnyder, Nancy Riegelman, Chad Robertson, Joe Schmelzer, Aaron Sheppard, Arne Svneson, Vincent Valdez, Mark Dean Veca, Wayne White, Eve Wood, Yek

Western Project is pleased to present, The First Six Years, an anniversary exhibition of the gallery and its artists. Thirty one artists are included with new or recent works. The exhibition is also a celebration of the founding of the arts community in Culver City; Western Project being the third gallery to open its doors in November of 2003.

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.