American artist and designer Liam Lee’s first solo exhibition titled Catch and Release opens at the prestigious Patrick Parrish Gallery in Manhattan, New York. His ground-breaking showcase presents reimagined felt furniture designs and tapestries along with an exciting range of functional objects, sculptures, and art pieces.
Lee’s philosophy with art is centred around creating pieces that appear organic and untouched by human intervention. With pieces that look like they have materialised spontaneously, he challenges traditional concepts and established principles of design. This out-of-the-box thinking results in surreal forms and striking silhouettes, which also articulate the design exhibition. The Catch and Release exhibition highlights these fantastical forms bringing together tapestries, gouache and pencil works on paper, mirrors, light sculptures, ceramic objects, woollen chair designs, and a woollen stool design. By introducing new textures and techniques, Lee continually mystifies his audience and evokes a childlike wonder. Each piece reflects Lee’s fascination with a reimagined and romanticised natural world.
Patrick Parrish of the Manhattan, New York-based Patrick Parrish Gallery expresses his admiration for Lee and the exhibition, commending his use of innovative materials and techniques by saying, “I am thrilled to present Liam Lee's inaugural solo exhibition. Wielding innovative materials and techniques, Liam's work in felt, ceramic, and metal, challenges our perceptions of form and surface. His pieces are a striking blend of art and design that push the boundaries of traditional sculpture and furniture making.”
Lee's presented works at the art gallery blur the boundaries between art and design, provoking viewers to reconsider their relationship with everyday objects. A clever use of colour, texture, materiality, and scale creates a captivating visual experience. The exhibition is also reminiscent of the mysteries concealed beneath the ocean's surface and invites audiences into an environment of poetic and ephemeral creation. The furniture designer and artist's most famed work, felted merino wool furniture, resonates with a deep sense of sense-memory by taking on phantasmagorical forms.
The entire collection of works is reflective of Lee's own sense of childlike wonderment that stems from exploring tide pools that brought forth special shells and storied rocks. Despite spending his childhood in an urban setting, his fascination with the enchanting, magical space persists and exists independently of his everyday experiences. He embraces this fascination within his work, as he meticulously designs and produces each piece himself. “Despite growing up as a city kid with an apparent lack of greenery around me, the natural world continues to occupy a sort of magical space through its physical separateness from what I generally experience on a daily. This notion of an untouched ‘natural’ world, or distinction between the natural and the man-made is of course, a human construct, and it is exactly this romanticised or imaginary version of the natural that I am drawn to,” explains Lee.
Shortlisted for the esteemed 2023 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize, Lee's journey as a designer can only be described as constant evolution marked by complexity and depth. He defies trends and expectations with his self-taught approach and employs labour-intensive craft techniques in unexpected ways.
Unveiled on June 22, 2023, the exhibition's title succinctly captures both, the inspiration behind Lee's pieces as well as his inspired creative process. Lee describes it as capturing a form or idea, and then releasing it back into the world, much like casting a net into waters and uncovering something extraordinary. Blurring the lines between art and design, Catch and Release pays tribute to Proteus in Greek mythology, a transformative shapeshifter who had the ability to see both into the past and into the future and revealed his true form when caught.
The ongoing exhibition also serves as a reminder that instead of clinging to creations, it is perhaps best to allow them to take shape organically (and briefly), before letting them go.
'Catch and Release' will be on view till August 04, 2023, at the Patrick Parrish Gallery, 50 Lispenard St, New York, NY 10013, United States.