Despite a career that spans over 25 years, Rhys Lee still finds it difficult to accurately define his art practice. His works are figurative inasmuch as recognisable faces, characters and objects appear across the canvas, but they are seldom directly representational. Equal parts abstract and impressionistic, with underlying traces of his early career in graffiti art, the works depict his personal thoughts and emotions - contemplations on the human condition that capture the current zeitgeist.
Though he prefers not to over-explain his process, Lee sees himself first and foremost as a colourist - imagery is a means to support the forms, tones and themes he’s exploring. Whether working in a rhythm that is physical and expressive or slow and cathartic, his primary concern is the colour palette and the intuitive application of paint.
A graduate of the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University (Bachelor of Visual Arts, 1997), Rhys Lee has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions through Australia and internationally, including Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States. A finalist in the Archibald Prize (2012), Beleura National Works on Paper (2010), Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize (2009), Doug Moran Prize (2009), the University of Queensland Art Museum National Self-Portrait Prize (2009), Swan Hill National Print and Drawing Acquisitive Awards (2000), his work is held in major Australian and international collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Artbank, the University of Queensland Art Collection, National Library of France, United Bank of Switzerland, Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art Belgium, BHP Billiton and Sotheby’s.
Carrie McCarthy, August 2023