PROJECTS         WRITING          TALKS         PRESS        ABOUT         CONTACT 


Austin Lee
Human Nature


Curated by Victor Wang
13 February  – June 30, 2021
M WOODS 798


M WOODS is proud to announce the first solo museum exhibition by American artist Austin Lee (b. 1983). Planned over the course of three years, the exhibition ‘Human Nature’, is an accumulation of Lee’s growth from 2019-2022 and will be Lee’s largest and most comprehensive exhibition to date. The exhibition includes works that have not been publicly displayed in a range of different media –painting, animation, murals, a site-specific commission, and several new large-scale installations.

Conceived with exhibition curator Victor Wang during a period of isolation and solitude, the exhibition focuses on emotion, growth and feelings as fundamental themes in Lee’s work. Moreover, a range of feelings and colors guide the layout of each room, together with correlating symbols designed by the artist, to further communicate Lee’s ideas of connectivity.

Part of a new genesis in painting, Lee’s creative practice involves producing artworks initially in virtual reality - within a computer program - before later materialising them as paintings, installations and sculptures. Balancing between the real and the virtual, the exhibition explores the important questions that Lee’s work and this exhibition raise: How do we translate human emotion through digital technology, and how has the advancement of technology helped us better understand the depth of human feelings? This is perhaps best exemplified in works such as Cry Baby (2021) and Train Tears 2 (2021) where the complexity of emotion attached to crying and the range of human feeling entangled between sadness and happiness are explored through the characters portrayed. In 1981, American art historian, critic and curator Douglas Crimp asked: ‘What makes it possible to see a painting as a painting?’. In 2022, we may expand on this to ask: How is painting also a type of ‘rendering technology’ that helps us understand our reality? “A technology”, says Austin Lee, “that has been shared throughout human history”.

Growth is another important theme that is examined in the exhibition. Several of the works on display, such as Smoking Cat, were originally conceived by Lee in 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, Lee’s practice has undergone major shifts, both in terms of aesthetics and medium: these changes are also reflected in the exhibition, and in new works such as Smoking Cat 2. These new series of works, created during an intense time of social isolation, also follow the challenging shifts that Lee underwent between 2019 and 2021.

Another key strand in the exhibition looks at Lee’s contribution to the development of painting beyond the traditional view of paint as a medium as the only intermediate that characterises the space between the canvas and technology. The space between paint and painting. Lee, for example, using computer generated programs to infuses the feeling of weightless experienced in these programs or the potential of multiple light sources when making work, into each painting. Each of the six galleries in the museum moves between the spheres of virtual reality and the natural world, creating a new experiential unity between the two. For example, the Central Hall Gallery will display Lee’s newly commissioned installation Human Nature (2021), an expanded surreal landscape that evokes both simulation and nature. This installation was originally conceived as a painting for the initial 2019 exhibition at M WOODS, but now takes on an expanded presence which incorporates additional video animations and a large mural. A new commission also features in the exhibition: Relax Fountain (2021), Lee’s first public water fountain, located in the Central Hall Gallery.

 

Installation View, Human Nature (2021),Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS



Installation View, Relax Fountain (2021),Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS


Animations, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS



Installation View, Mr. Austin (2021),Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS




Installation View, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS



Installation View, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS




Installation View, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS




Installation View, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS




Installation View, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS




Installation View, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS




Installation View, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS




Installation View, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS




Installation View, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS




Installation View, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS




Installation View, “Austin Lee Human Nature”, M WOODS Museum, 2022, at M WOODS 798, Beijing. © MWOODS





--


VICTOR WANG
All content property of © Victor Wang 2009 - 2021 All rights reserved -- BEIJING - LONDON.