Robert Avon Lees integrates painting, mixed media sculpture, architecture and landscape architecture in his life’s work.
Through abstract compositions of biomorphic shapes, Lees ventures into the realm of intangibles with a sense of energy and continuous change. His “Further” exhibition of 48 abstract paintings is currently on display in the Community Gallery of the Encinitas Library.
Lees’ spontaneous, vividly colorful abstract paintings reflect his interest in merging contemporary scientific theories with mystical and metaphysical insights.
One viewer describes Lees’ paintings as “gorgeous splots and splashes of color throbbing with universal rhythms.”
Lees explains, “There are principles in the scientific and metaphysical worlds that share common ground; I enjoy exploring that mysterious realm.”
With an organic presence and aliveness, his content expresses his vision of space, cellular matter, energy, transformation and other dimensions.
According to Lees, “It’s the space between that creates energy and relationships of forms and matter. Although I consider my work abstract, I use forms and symbols that create clear compositions that work as metaphors to express emotions, movements, and qualities of life. I also like the viewer to see my work through their own imaginative vision.”
Favoring acrylic paints on panel and canvas, Lees creates dynamic, highly charged surfaces by building up as many as 30 layers of acrylic paints and washes, allowing fortunate “accidents” to happen along the way.
Influenced by the Bauhaus philosophy of bringing together various art forms — including painting and architecture — into a modern synthesis, Lees’ endeavors are multifaceted. With a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, he has worked as both designer and builder on many projects including solar and earth-sheltered homes, in which he combines fine art, design and architecture.
He explains consistencies in his creative process: “My study of architecture and landscape architecture trained me to look at the relationships of elements, forms and function in our environment from the big picture to details. The design analysis and process start as conceptual bubble drawings of observed and intended relationships. I follow this process in my paintings as I use cellular bubble shapes and forms to create space and relationships between elements in a spontaneous way, but also in a compositional manner. There are a lot of similarities in all the creative process, whether I am creating a painting from a blank canvas, or designing a landscape or house, or building a house from the ground up — which I do hands-on start to finish.”
Since his childhood in Minneapolis, Minn., Lees’ connection to the natural world has translated at a deep level into his art and sensibilities.
During his formative years he was also exposed to modern art at the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design from which Lees developed a wealth of historical reference from which to draw throughout his creative career.
Recipient of several awards for painting and public art, Lees has shown in museums and galleries across the country, as well as locally at the San Diego Museum of Art and the San Diego Art Institute. As an extreme skier, former ski racer and instructor, he has often shown in galleries in Telluride and Mountain Village, CO and Santa Fe, N.M.
Selecting the name “Further” for his current exhibition, Lees muses, “It’s where I try to go with myself and my work. You’ve got to go ‘further’ for the result to be richer and deeper.”
“Further” abstract acrylic paintings by Robert Avon Lees will be on display through June 1 in the Community Gallery of the Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Dr.
Kay Colvin is director of L Street Fine Art Gallery in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, and specializes in promoting emerging and mid-career artists. Contact her at [email protected]