Paul Lee: Tambourine Heart
April 24—May 22, 2021


Paul Lee and Gus Van Sant 
in converstation


In collaboration with Karma, New York, and co-organized with Ellen Langan, Adams and Ollman is pleased to announce a solo exhibition with artist Paul Lee on view at the gallery from April 24 through May 22, 2021. The exhibition, “Tambourine Heart,” features a new series of collages made from Lee’s distinct index of materials.  

Since the late 1990s, Lee’s artistic output has often blurred the distinctions between sculpture, drawing, collage, and painting. Characterized by a palpable presence of the hand, the artist’s ongoing formal experimentation and investigation of materiality returns to the same functional objects rendered into reliquary. Imbuing material experience of the familiar with an undeniable numinousness and wonder, Lee’s formal language bends toward subversive, emotional and poetic ends.

Incorporating the practice of collage-making as a daily ritual this past year, Lee constructed these works from the existing archive of materials on hand in his studio. Beginning with a ground of painted paper, then applying remnants of hand-dyed towels, canvas splattered with paint or mimicking the circumference of a tambourine, cutouts of photos, and window screens, these works convey both past use and aesthetic potential. “Tambourine Heart” marks the first time Lee has exhibited collages in over 15 years.

Collage stands as a metaphor for material improvisation. In these new works—larger in scale than the intimate collages from his past—Lee shifts the various components in a process of non-linear play, reconfiguring notions of identity and meaning. Viewers are invited to toggle between expectation and ambiguity, to confront the body’s simultaneous presence and absence. Towels touch the body, the screen obscures it.  Painted bath towels unite to form a horizon line, one between wet or dry, body and landscape, or earth and sky. An echo of a tambourine’s surface, displaced from its use, now forms a planetary body or black hole. The artist’s evocative signature color palette remains intentional: for Lee, color is fundamental to the experiences around us.  Reds, blacks, lavenders, and greens reference desire, longing, death, water, and landscape—such associations and interpretations are always semiotic, various and shifting.

These works incorporate another constant for Lee—a single found photograph of an idealized face of a man. The artist dissects this image, cutting it into perfect circles that isolate fragments of flesh, nose, ears and lips, while at other times collaging over the face’s whole. This pathos bends to the circle as a universal symbol of perfection and for Lee, a stand-in for a tambourine bell rendered silent. That idealized face is often doubled and mirrored, hiding behind a world of abstracted shape, color and form.

Accompanying and footnoting these works on paper are three new tambourine sculptures, intimate constructions reformulated from the same arsenal of materials, further expanding Lee's inimitable language.

The compositions appear as self-contained worlds that do not resolve. Rather, they reveal a key thread or narrative throughout Lee’s work—one that explores the places of transition between public and private, mind and body, body and world, connection and separation, restraint and desire, the place of tending to both what remains and to what can be anew.

Paul Lee (b. 1974, London, UK) lives and works in New York. Recent exhibitions include David Shelton Gallery, Houston (2020); Karma, New York (2019); Modern Art, London (2018); Michael Lett, New Zealand (2017); Jeffrey Stark, New York (2016); Maccarone, Los Angeles (2016); Untilthen, Paris (2015); and University of the Arts, Philadelphia (2015).


Works



Paul Lee
Tambourine Stack Collapse, 2020
printed image, card and acrylic paint on canvas and paper
24 x 19 inches
60.96 x 48.26 centimeters
PL-20-024
 

Paul Lee
Beyond the Garden, 2021
aluminum screen, printed image, staples, spray paint and acrylic paint on paper
24 x 19 inches
60.96 x 48.26 centimeters
PL-21-024


Paul Lee
Red, 2021
aluminum screen, printed image, staples, spray paint and acrylic paint on paper
24 x 19 inches
60.96 x 48.26 centimeters
PL-21-006


Paul Lee
Bruiser, 2021
aluminum screen, printed image, staples, spray paint and acrylic paint on paper
24 x 19 inches
60.96 x 48.26 centimeters
PL-21-008


Paul Lee
Senses Corner with Red Square, 2021
aluminum screen, printed image, staples, spray paint and acrylic paint on paper
24 x 19 inches
60.96 x 48.26 centimeters
PL-21-035


Paul Lee
Tambourine Forming Image, 2020
aluminum screen, printed image, staples, spray paint and acrylic paint on canvas and paper
24 x 19 inches
60.96 x 48.26 centimeters
PL-20-018


Paul Lee
Collapsing Speakers, 2020
printed image, washcloth and acrylic paint on canvas and paper
24 x 19 inches
60.96 x 48.26 centimeters
PL-20-044


Paul Lee
Tambourine Dream, 2020
printed image, canvas, and acrylic paint on canvas and paper.
24 x 18 inches
60.96 x 45.72 centimeters
PL-20-016


Paul Lee
Gazer, 2020
aluminum screen, printed image, staples, spray paint and acrylic paint on paper
24 x 19 inches
60.96 x 48.26 centimeters
PL-20-031


Paul Lee
Stacking, 2021
aluminum screen, printed image, staples, spray paint and acrylic paint on paper
24 x 19 inches
60.96 x 48.26 centimeters
PL-21-048


Paul Lee
Two Lawns, 2020
printed image, washcloth and acrylic paint on canvas and paper
24 x 19 inches
60.96 x 48.26 centimeters
PL-20-038


Paul Lee
Sculpture, 2020
washcloth, printed image, canvas, and acrylic paint on canvas and paper
24 x 19 inches
60.96 x 48.26 centimeters
PL-20-021



Paul Lee
Maquette Like, 2020
aluminum screen, staples, spray paint, acrylic paint, wire, bath towel, canvas, ink on tambourine (wood, canvas, steel jingles)
16 1/2 x 12 x 12 1/2 inches
35.56h x 35.56w cm
PL-20-042
 



Paul Lee
Open Heart, 2021
aluminum screen, staples, spray paint, acrylic paint, soda can, wire, bath towel,
canvas, ink on tambourine (hide, wood, steel jingles)
12 1/2 x 8 x 9 inches
35.56 x 35.56 centimeters
PL-21-050


Installation Images