Painting is a process of response, with the resultant painting becoming a manifestation of responses and choices, and responses to choices, and responses to results. Aspects of these patterns become familiar with practice, with the ones that move into near-automation making room for more responsive choices and, if you’re willing to risk it like Jinn Bronwen Lee is, more opportunities to deviate, to open yourself and your painting up to unanticipated pathways that respond to things both within and without the painting.
Each painting in Deviò extends from an intersection of roads, one always being defined by Lee’s considerations for what painting has to offer her in response to the other intersecting roads, generally defined as curious or confounding experiences, thoughts, and actions.* As each painting establishes itself, it becomes less a site for executing painterly interests or solutions, and more a site for discovery; comprising parts that need to be found while others are made, seeking access to what has yet been denied, uncertain of what any particular choice might yield but flipping over that stone in the swampy forest anyway because she has to see for herself. What else might there be in this painting? What opportunities to deviate remain? Can she deviate within the road, or must she de-road herself and the painting? As the picture comes into view, Lee’s choices become all the more focussed on how and what to reveal or conceal, the bigness of the early painting energy sharpening into the final balance of what is left to be composed and decomposed.
This process of deviation, both methodical and uninhibited, extends from the painted surfaces and into Lee’s approach to placing them with an architecture. When taking all that informs these paintings into consideration (not to mention that each one is either round or rounded in shape) it hardly makes sense to seek only aligning their positions with the eye level of most adults’. Lee’s paintings are far more likely to be informed by early 20th century monster movies, a sequence of warm-ups and stretches taken by a runner, the severe wailing and underlying melodies of Joe McPhee’s Cosmic Love variations,** the chemical and physical changes occurring in a slow-roasting brisket, or the highly dangerous motorcycle jumps of Evel Knievel than they are by current or historical picture making themes and conventions. Some of them need to be seen from above (looking down on a belly) or from below (looking under a chin.) Wherever you encounter them, it is the result of yet another set of deliberately wayward responses to the paintings and their environment. Less common in Lee’s work, but crucial to the production of this exhibition, is a set of direct incursions into the space through a series of subtle architectural misshapings. They are there to be found, remembered, forgotten, and remembered again. These modifications are yet another reminder that however finalized Lee’s work becomes, the potential to access further deviations is just as available as it always was.
*The exhibition’s title, Deviò, comes from the Italian, specifically when referring to someone having deviated long ago in the third person.
**Cosmic Love (5:57), Cosmic Love Number Two (5:48), and Cosmic Love Organ Alone (6:12) were recorded by Joe McPhee between 1968-1973 and appear on his 2010 album Sound on Sound.
Jinn Bronwen Lee earned her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from the University of Chicago. Previous exhibitions and events have taken place at Regards, Chicago; Stony Island Arts Bank, Chicago; Salon Dahlmann, Berlin; 185 Grand, New York City; Z20 Galleria, Roma; American Academy in Rome; Meliksetian | Briggs, Los Angeles; and Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago.