Marta Lee’s paintings range from conceptual and formal concerns to more intimate and personal narratives. She examines an elusive feeling of home by using objects and spaces that resonate undeniably: worn-out shoes and patterned tablecloths become vessels for memory and comfort. Lee also incorporates photographic matte-medium transfers into her paintings. These skin-like, nuanced multiples create irregular patterns that frame the image and contrast colorful, painted areas. While she is receptive to each painting’s inner logic, she also utilizes rules, listening to particular songs on repeat or using written notes or diagrams instead of reference photographs. This convergence of abstraction and figuration invites a more fluid interpretation of contemporary domestic space, offering a glimpse of her labyrinthine storytelling.
Shore Leave is a borrowed title from Tom Waits’ song on his 1983 album Swordfishtrombone, which spins a tale of a sailor taking his shore leave, both a break from the waves and chaos, and yet a lonely time estranged from his girlfriend and his home. Lee recognizes this album as the beginning of the musician’s boundary-breaking career, and she shares in this feeling of experimentation and transitional energy. She thinks of the exhibition as ultimately hopeful: the shore serves as a beacon, a separation between land and sea, and while we have all been on our own shore leave from our previous lives in 2020 and Lee made much of this work during this period, the divide between steady and tumultuous has never felt more precarious, and more powerful.