Critics’ Picks

View of “Evan Lee: Full Circle,” 2019.

View of “Evan Lee: Full Circle,” 2019.


Evan Lee

Monte Clark Gallery
525 Great Northern Way #105
September 19–October 19, 2019

Evan Lee’s series of paintings “Fortune Happiness,” 2018, is distinguished by long shadows and listless figures that might be found in Edward Hopper’s canvases. But in Lee’s work, these figures are placed in city sites not pictured by his predecessor: salons, food courts, Chinese restaurants. His figures seem isolated, but they are never really so—heads down, they are entirely absorbed in their work, or in the screens of their phones.

In Woman Under a Tree and Women with Umbrellas in the Sun, both 2019, Lee adopts a garish, almost Fauvist palette. In the former work, there is little chromatic difference between sky, figure, or ground. In the latter, the picture glows with radiant tones, and yet the content is quotidian. The surfaces of these pieces are somehow both muddy and fluorescent, their palettes seemingly derived from reflective pools of rainwater, crumpled candy wrappers, aged plastic containers.

The paintings focus on lost time, moments of respite or distraction—conversations among friends, lunch breaks, endless scrolling. Lee has included some photographic works in this show, but his paintings most succesfully slow down such moments by shifting them into the slow languages of oil, pastel, and acrylic. In such intermittent moments, and in the artist's process itself, time is whittled away. Each pictured distraction is forever suspended, never fulfilled.