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Jivan Lee Biography

Jivan Lee Artist's Statement & Biography: I paint because I love it and hope to share this joy with others. When painting I'm brought back to simplicities, back to my senses, and in a way, back to life. To surrender scripted plans and just listen and look, not knowing what will come, is a trust-fall of sorts and an act of devotion. On the good days this practice dissolves the excess in my psyche and leaves me clearer in mind and heart. It’s something I believe can translate to others through a finished work.

In a time filled with so much that can leave us far from the subtle pulse of a day, acts of simplification – for me, painting – seem like time well spent. My hope is that by listening when something luminous calls, by partaking in the alchemy of painting and surrendering to an unknowable outcome, something inspiring will develop on the canvas and eventually touch someone else's heart. Some days I’m more successful than others. Generally I’m just grateful for the chance to play with color and light, grateful to feel compelled to respond to the big beautiful world with the medium I know best.


About the work
Nearly all of my paintings are made on-site and from life, whether indoors or outdoors. The smallest paintings are 4" x 6" while the largest ones range up to 60" on a side. Pallet knives and brushes are my tools of choice, though occasionally you’ll find me using paper towels, gloves, bare hands, and even dirt. Over the last several years my work has grown increasingly heavy with paint and liberal in its response to reality. Today the challenge is in pushing the line between abstract and representational, between paint as a substance, as a creator of image, and as a catalyst for emotional response. In so far as a painting dances along these lines while remaining luminous, surprising, and directly informed by rigors inherent in any composition, I find a measure of success and satisfaction.
Being an artist who lives to paint this world and its natural environment leaves me with profound gratitude and a sense of reciprocity towards all that inspires my work. As such, in addition to choosing the highest quality materials, wherever possible I also prefer those that are socially responsible and environmentally friendly. Examples include walnut oil paints made with renewable energy by a family-owned Oregonian company and painting surfaces made of Forestry Stewardship Council-certified wood materials.

Jivan Lee is an emerging artist currently based in Taos, NM. He grew up in Woodstock, NY, and studied painting at Bard College with contemporary New York City painters Joseph Santore and Laura Battle. He has moved about the country and world since, painting in New York, Italy, Ghana, and Mexico. His work has been shown in solo and group shows throughout the US, and he is the recipient of awards for his paintings and environmental work, as well as for thematic art projects such as the production of mixed-media art on Northern New Mexico farms, land, and people. In addition to painting as much as time allows, Jivan is faculty at the University of New Mexico and directs the Project for Art and the Environment.

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