Lee Marshall was born in Cambridge in 1986.
He graduated from the Norwich School of Art and Design in 2008.
He lives and works in Norwich.
On entering the space, you find an installation of brightly coloured works comprised of signs and symbols. On the left and right of the space, four paintings are hung alongside crisp shapes painted directly onto the walls. Ahead of you, a sculptural object is leant against the end wall. In the far left corner of the space, the artist has produced a wall painting of loose strokes in spray paint.
A discussion between Alex Strachan and Lee Marshall 28th February 2009.
Alex Strachan: Lee, Salutations! extends the ideas in your painted work into the gallery space through wall paintings and objects. Do you feel comfortable with characterizing the show as an installation?
Lee Marshall: I have tried to install the show in a way that allows each element to come together and work as a whole, but I don’t see the whole show as one piece. I don’t intend to recreate this exact configuration of work again.
AS: The hanging height of the paintings differs throughout with some works being highlighted or interrupted by shapes and gestures on the walls. Do you see the relationships that the paintings have with these external factors as a reproduction of their content in actual space?
LM: Not so much a reproduction as a response to what is present in each painting. It’s pretty clear that I have certain motifs and symbols that I go to again and again, the 3D diamond shape is an example of this. I think of these symbols as my vocabulary, so when approaching painting directly on to the walls of the gallery - which is quite a new development in my practice - I think it’s inevitable that elements present within the panels or canvases will be reciprocated. One thing I’m trying with the show is to enhance the influence of my work upon the exhibition space itself, which painting directly onto the gallery walls allows me to do.
AS: You describe the make up of your paintings as being a type of vocabulary. In what ways do you anticipate that your audience will interpret this imagery?
LM: Each part of the vocabulary is derived or even directly appropriated from different areas of art, graphic design, advertising and popular culture, but when I employ these things I try to empty them of their original meaning so that I can dictate a new context for them in my work. I expect that viewers will be able to pin-point my influences in many cases, so their interpretation may just draw similarities between individual elements and imagery they’ve seen in advertising, packaging, mass media etc. but really I’d hope that each painting can be seen as a whole as well and as the outcome of the ‘game’ I play when making it. My practice essentially revolves around a process of ‘constructing’ an image, which in turn is treated as a kind of strategic game where each element is placed in response to the previous one. I see it more as building a virtual construct or mapping virtual space than painting a picture. I’d hope that viewers could draw this interpretation themselves as well.
AS: You seem to enjoy the idea of playing with elements and taking them out of context, but from what you’ve said they originate from two-dimensional media. How do you see the sculptural work fitting into this?
LM: I guess that the sculpture seems to be the odd one out in some respects, although aesthetically and in terms of the methodology behind it, I feel it sits alongside the 2D work quite well. I’m wary of using the word sculpture, though, because it’s still quite flat in a lot of ways, and still requires wall space. It actually started as something quite specific to this show, but really became it’s own thing. The title of the show came first, and I must’ve been thinking along the lines of “Salutations” being some sort of cliche of science fiction movies, an introduction to something alien. I found the hand shape and it just seemed to fit so well with this idea, so really the gesture created by this shape was the basis for the rest of the piece, it just needed some kind of support structure to emphasise this gesture.
AS: So if you don’t call it ‘sculpture’ what do you call it?
LM: Object-based work? I don’t mind it being classified as a sculpture, it just doesn’t have the depth or mass usually attributed to the idea of sculpture.
AS: I guess that ‘objects’ sums it up nicely. You mentioned that painting beyond the canvas is a new development in your practice. What do you expect to move onto next?
LM: I think I’ll develop the use of the exhibition space further, but with the panels I’m trying to decide how visually complex they need to be - if at all - so I think my work could end up being taken back to a simpler, more graphic state in the near future. Or the paintings become incredibly complex. I’m indecisive.