“I am not looking for perfection in my work; I like the near misses much more.”

In Love With Death

In Love With Death

Intangible © Tim Lee

Dia de los Muertos, All Souls’ Day, Defuncts’ Day, Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, Samhain, Halottak Napja in Hungary, Yom el Maouta in Lebanon, Obon in Japan, Hungry Ghosts Festival in China, Ullambana in ancient Sanskrit. Wherever you come from and whatever you call it, it’s a celebration of the universal themes of humanity: Mortality, Sexuality, Violence and Memory.

If the famous erotic Chinese artist Zhou Fang and the famed calavera artist José Guadalupe Posada had a love child it might be Tim Lee. Playing with perspectives, form and compositions that are at a glance familiar to traditional Chinese painting, Lee seeks visual harmony between two cultural aesthetics. The U.K.-born Lee is of Chinese descent and attempts to reflect Chinese history and culture in his paintings, by drawing from the memories of his upbringing and stories from his family. As a result his work operates as a series of “projected nostalgias and exaggerated narratives that create a vivid sense of the past, a historical tale or a lyrical dream.”

Samhain–the Gaelic Harvest Festival–in particular speaks of the end of the lighter half of the year and beginning of the darker half. From light to dark, male and female, birth and death, Tim lee’s art mingles in the subtle shadings between two worlds. Where the ephemeral lilt of romance meets death is Lee’s territory. Where others stop, Lee continues, going farther than mere derivative suggestion of the Shunga-esque sexual depictions or the Calavera death-masks of the past and ventures forth into new forms of social, cultural and artistic miscegenation. Here the beautiful and violent dance in which we must all join hands is the inevitable jig of death.

He goes on to say:

“I am influenced by early photography as well as Chinese and Western paintings, I interpret and re-work classical imagery into contemporary compositions. The techniques employed to create my work are again an attempt to understand my heritage. I use basic materials such as ink and rice papers to pay homage to the tradition of Chinese painting. The compositions, forms and rhythms of classical Asian art echo through my work, intertwined with a Western sense of realism and perspective.”

See more work by the artist here.