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John Lees

"In many interviews, John Lees returns to three artists: Georges Rouault, Chaïm Soutine, and Milton Resnick. While they all share an extreme fascination with paint’s materiality, and the various ways this can be both manipulated and manifested, I don’t think Lees’s intense, lifelong preoccupation with them is purely about what they do with paint. The following statement by Rouault, who is all but forgotten in America these days, suggests to me the deeper bond that Lees feels with them:


'Anyone can revolt. It is more difficult silently to obey our own inner promptings, and to spend our lives finding sincere and fitting means of expression for our temperament and our gifts.'


'Interiority' is one of the words that the art world has never quite known what to do with, as it prioritizes the importance of subjectivity and the isolated individual rather than objectivity and collectivity. The other thing that Lees’s work brings home to me is that an expressionist painting need not be done fast, no matter how fluid the paint might look."