Richard Lee – Statement

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In August 2006 I traveled from Australia to China to do consecutive residencies in Beijing with Red Gate Gallery and Imagine Gallery. I came to China because I am particularly interested in both contemporary and traditional Chinese art that is concerned with Taoist thought. Ever since reading a book by Lao Tzu when in my teens, I have been influenced by Taoist philosophy. As I am not Chinese however, I cannot presume to really understand the subtleties and complexities of Lao Tzu. I merely feel an affinity with a view that all ‘parts’ of the world are generated from one essential nature and thus share an equality of existence.

As an infant I was in remote North Western Australia and grew up in rural Eastern Australia before leaving to study in Canberra and have retained a strong feeling for connecting with nature. So it is this, somewhat romantic, perspective that I bring to a contemporary documentation of urban life.

Painting enables me to contemplate my environment, including organic and constructed elements, social, cultural as well as political situations all together as one natural (visual) phenomenon. I observe relationships of both harmony and conflict within the immediate environment and attempt to reframe these as integral parts of one unit within my paintings.

My painting technique explores the potential of oil paint for both chaos and control. I see the mingling of chaotic and structural paintwork as a representation of the human mind integrated within the natural world. Chinese ink painting has also influenced my approach to oil painting.

I feel that my work is in some ways a contemporary link to the romantic landscape painters such as Casper David Friedrich or William Turner, for whom nature was a sublime entity. In my own paintings, humans and the man made environment share status with other elements of nature.