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In his dynamic and expressive paintings and sculptures, Austin Lee (b. 1983) explores the thresholds between abstract and representational imagery, the comic and the tragic. His working process embraces contemporary technologies: he often derives his painting compositions from digital sketches made on an iPad, while his sculptures have been created using a 3-D printer. In Narcissus Reflection (2020), Lee depicts a reclining figure whose form is reminiscent of Claymation characters, with bulbous body parts and limited levels of detail. As the viewer’s eye moves down the canvas, it becomes apparent that Lee’s subject is gazing at his or her own reflection, itself a pictorial device often used to reference the passage of time. Given the stylized approach to the figure, which, with its fuzzy image resolution and abrupt delineations between foreground and background, recalls early digital animation, the painting alludes to past models of cutting-edge technologies while also employing contemporary ones, perhaps indicating a longing for moments when the future seemed far simpler than it does now.
Photo: courtesy the artist