Tim Lee’s elaborate drawings using ink on Chinese rice paper are beautiful, dark and full of melancholy. Lee is of Chinese decent, but was raised in Britain and this dual heritage is immediately apparent in his works, mixing elements of both traditional Chinese and European art into his pieces.
Natural imagery including intricately detailed flora, twisted branches, masses of roots, leaves and delicate flowers saturate the works, often cloaking any human subjects, evoking the aesthetics of classical Chinese art. There is an overwhelming sense of realism to the pieces though, a more Western tradition, the flowers here are tangled together, slightly wilted and their beauty offset with skulls, bones and forlorn expressions.
All of this detail gives a real depth to the works, it feels as though there are memories trapped behind every inch of the paper, they exude nostalgia and a sense of cultural loss. There is a sadness, a longing that seeps through, an artist cut off from his heritage and torn between two cultures. This feeling of melancholy is further amplified by the use of the muted monochrome colour palette, darkness envelopes the illuminated subjects and provides a stark visual contrast, giving the pieces an unexpected graphic edge.
‘I’m not looking perfection with my works, that much I do know. I like the near misses much more’