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James Lecce Exhibit to Open 5/9 at McKenzie Fine Art

James Lecce Exhibit to Open 5/9 at McKenzie Fine Art

McKenzie Fine Art has announced an exhibition of new abstract paintings by James Lecce, opening Friday, May 9, with a reception for the artist from 6 to 8 p.m., and running through Sunday, June 15, 2014.

James Lecce's meticulously crafted acrylic paintings have seductively glossy surfaces, rich colors and flowing compositions that recall a range of visual pleasures, from the intricacies of the natural world to the ornate luxury of opulent art-historical precedents. The bold canvases suggest phenomena such as agate formation or the swirl and sheen of sumptuous concoctions. Emphatic patches bulge into striations of varying hues, punctuated with glimmering metallic bands. Multiple streams of color slide along and past one another, some saturated and some diaphanous. They constrict, expand and ripple around larger open areas, eventually flowing over the four edges of each painting.

Lecce's careful control of his materials results in paintings that conceal the process of their creation, which begins with the careful selection of colors. He mixes pigments and acrylic emulsion himself, then pours the paint in a multi-layered and highly choreographed procedure. The pooling and subsequent manipulation of the layers produce a striking and nearly flawless surface, but the process always carries the risk of ruin. For Lecce, accepting this risk and pushing the acrylic medium beyond its usual limits opens possibilities. New methods lead to new visual elements - formations, blooms and explosions - all suggesting infinite expansion and fluid growth.

Lecce takes inspiration from various art historical sources, including Rococo, Art Nouveau and action painting, as well as music and the natural world. This current body of work was particularly inspired by recent travels to the deserts of the American southwest and to the parks and gardens of the English countryside. Lecce writes:

These seemingly opposing landscapes, one wild and rugged and the other designed and manicured, are each, in their own ways, ordered yet asymmetrical in a balanced manner. They are both places of reflection, sanctuary and exploration - all of this very much aligned to my own visual vocabulary and studio practice. They provided me with countless visual "what ifs?" for my work. As always, color is key. I continue to use metallics and iridescents, even more so in this body of work, to amplify the alchemic properties of paint, along with unusual color combinations derived from both of these "muse" landscapes to suggest an organic-synthetic interplay.

Gallery hours are Wednesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; on Sunday the gallery opens at noon. Mondays and Tuesdays are open by appointment.

Image: Nokota, 2014, acrylic polymer emulsion on canvas on panel, 45 x 84 inches

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