Jim Lee, Installation with Untitled (Hydropod) 2009, Untitled (Charlie's Atlas) 2009, Longest Hour 2008
Just opened at Freight and Volume on 24th Street is a whole new batch by Jim Lee, a collection of eccentrically beautiful objects, built in his trademark beguilingly offhanded fashion. As with all of Jim's exhibitions, the installation is an assertive aspect of the show, with the gallery space being altered in a manner consistent with the way the pieces are constructed. Rough plywood partitions create small niches around the entrance, a temporary drywall closes off the reception desk leaving a slim vertical portal to the back room. In the center of the space a diagonally placed plywood wall goes floor to ceiling, and is braced by a collection of jury rigged 2x4s. Within this space, the works are arranged to move the viewer up, down, around and through -- they are leaned against the wall or hung at varying heights singly and in groups creating distinctly odd and surprising synchopations and relations.
The pieces themselves occupy a strange ambiguous realm. They are formally simple and eloquent, with dynamic tensions between large color fields and small linear or geometric elements, smoothe surfaces and frayed edges, painted shapes and found configurations. Physically, they are down and dirty, seemingly quick and direct, with every aspect of their makeup left visible. Yet the method of their construction is invested with a ritualized specificity -- a deliberate and insistent scruffiness that reads as a sort of imperative, and emphasizes the process of making as pure transformative necessity. Each piece reveals itself as a reconfiguration of discarded (or saved) fragments, a poetic reordering of the most basic elements of the world.
Also present in Jim Lee's working method is a pervasive sense of play, and an abiding amusement with the serendipitous aspects of reality -- with the possiblity of finding some new kind of resonance in the most unlikely places. We can imagine him sporting a sly grin as he makes these funky objects, as he chops a corner out of a painting with a utility knife and then staples it roughly back into place. And it is that willingness to destroy or disregard the conventions, to look elsewhere, that constantly renews his work, keeping it on the edge of disintegration, unpredictable, and always thrilling to see. In the back room of the gallery, Jim has posted a small chunk of paper with a hand-lettered manifesto: "IF IT'S GOING TO BE SHIT, I'M GOING TO DOT THE I'S AND CROSS THE T'S". So there you go -- he transforms shit into THE SHIT.