Reno, NV 89501
The art of Wes Lee is romantic, flowing and sexy. His artworks are portraits done with a variety of media, including oils and pastels.
He explores the beauty of forms: “Whether it is the body, folds of fabric, or a piece of fruit.”
He most often portrays single figures, women, in a fantastical setting that is exotic and compelling, like the magical realism writing of Gabriel García Márquez.
Of Birds & Bugs & Other Allusions is the title of his exhibition currently on display at the Sierra Arts Gallery.
“Horizontal Rain” depicts a woman with thick ropes of white hair that weave in the air like the arms of an octopus, floating in upon themselves and flowing away into the dark. Lee’s work is at once outrageous, spiritual and ultimately elegant. Especially captivating is “Antigone,” a pastel and watercolor of a woman, face averted, spilled across a stone wall. She is a breathtaking glimpse of flowing grief, and she is alluring, desirable and ghostly beautiful. Another woman poses in a golden light, and dances with her arms and hands raised in the air. Her fingers are rendered precisely, glowingly. It seems as though she is standing in the room—a three-dimensional beckoning glimpse of sexuality.
There are women posed in circles of dragonflies and beetles dripping yellow light. There are women in desert scenes with fantastic, mythical birds peering out of the far-fetched landscape.
Many of Lee’s bright pieces are on a black background that seems to make the colors leap out. And “Peace That We Could Find” depicts a delightful little girl wearing fairy wings and standing in a phone booth in what looks like the Nevada desert, barren and far reaching. The legend on the phone booth is “TALK TO GOD.”
Allegory is not Lee’s only aim. Some of his oils are painted with an almost Van Gogh-like texture.
He has taught at Truckee Meadows Community College part time for the last 11 years. Currently, he teaches a class in Color Theory and Illustration and Rendering, a beginner’s class that involves different aspects of drawing, painting and portraiture. He also conducts workshops at the Nevada Museum of Art.
In his artist’s statement, he writes that, “In addition, there is also symbolism in the patterns of the beetles and dragonflies, beyond their particular individual universal symbolic meanings; I place them often in a perfect pattern to express the contrast of those things in life that we plan and that which is unplanned. … The Birds are another matter, sometimes there is symbolism, and sometimes it’s just about having fun painting a happy, wingless, made-up bird.”
And that is one flavor of Lee’s show—Wes having fun. He says that a friend taught him how to paint with oils, particularly how to paint in the technique of the old masters. That form is what one senses when wandering through his precise and flowing fantasies. It is a magical trip.