The Mark Paintings 1977-79
Obsessive and repetitive markings over a strict grid structure characterize the early paintings by Catherine Lee, which will be on view in The Mark Paintings 1977-79 at Galerie Lelong. Drawing from Minimalist practices, Lee’s purity of form has intellectual rigor but evokes the tenacity and sensitivity of the human hand. The Mark Paintings 1977-79 opens to the public on Friday, November 30, from 6 to 8 pm, and the artist will be present.
Abstract yet highly expressive and bordering on figuration, Lee’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures elicit strong responses with minimal visual means. The mark paintings of the late-‘70s, made at the beginning of Lee’s career, are exemplary of Lee’s seamless combination of discipline and poetic gesture. Made on raw, unstretched sections on canvas that are attached to the wall with grommets, the early paintings are calligraphic records that the artist likens to handprints on a cave wall, marking her presence in the world. Using only small, uniform marks in black or white, Lee created a painterly, fluid surface suggestive of a tapestry. Later Lee employed this method with other colors, such as blue, red, and yellow—creating vibrant monochrome fields using small, repeated strokes.
Lee’s reductive investigations informed her sculptures, which she has made her focus for the past two decades and is primarily known for today. Lee’s sculptures consist of series of small, repetitive wall reliefs or monumental bronze sculptures, with rough, shard-like shapes that refer to pre-historical and natural forms. Her sculpture has consistently explored a variety of materials, juxtaposing those substances not often found in tandem, such as bronze and glass, or iron and ceramic. Beginning her career in New York in the mid-‘70s, just after the peak of production in Minimalism, Lee’s explorations of form and substance through repetition are highly significant and representative of the influential period and movement.
The Mark Paintings 1977-79 is Catherine Lee’s fifth solo exhibition at Galerie Lelong. Recent museum surveys of her work include exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Art in Dublin; Hôtel des Arts, Toulon, France; and Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Étienne Métropole. Lee’s work can be found in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Gallery, London; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Cleveland Museum of Art; and Irish Museum of Modern Art. Lee currently lives and works in Texas.