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Jason Matthew Lee, the hacker who is cracking into the gallery room

Stefano Pirovano

A writing about Jason Matthew Lee that stems from a painting that the artist presented in 2014 in Milan. Many things has been happening since then…

In October 2014 we spotted this work by Jason Matthew Lee (b. 1989) at Fluxia, in Milan. It was hanging on the gallery window, as part of a group show inspired to the life of Saint Francis from Assisi, a show that attracted us since Francis’ life has inspired very conceptual artists such as Giotto (here is how Nicolas Party is looking at the master), or El Greco. Effectively Lee’s work – and his art practice as well – has nothing in common with the 14th or 17th century painting, nevertheless it deserves attention.

Jason Matthew Lee
Jason Matthew Lee, The hacker perspective, 2014. Recto.

Like the pieces presented in occasion of the first artist’s main solo show – “ZERO/Lenna” at Marbiers 4, in Geneva, a gallery that has recently hosted also the first solo show of another emerging artist who apparently is doing well, Yoan Mudry – Lee’s canvas at Fluxia is referred to computer and technology culture. The work’s title, “hackers perspective”, is printed 9 times on the verso of the canvas, along with a second writing, “JML 2014”, the artist’s signature, and that is welcoming the visitors of the show since the canvas is placed just beside the gallery’s entrance. On the recto, once you are “inside” the room, the detail you immediately notice is the metallic drops here and there on the black and white multi layered surface, bearing unreadable printed writings probably coming from an internet page.

Jason Matthew Lee, The hacker perspective, 2014. Verso.

The double face strategy makes the canvas working as an object, more than as a simple flat surface, turning it into a metaphoric device. Thanks to the metallic stains, for example, it could resemble a memory card, or a kind of processor to be inserted somewhere to trick, or better to hack, the “official” system. And that probably is the meaning of placing it in such an unconventional way.

Jason Matthew Lee
Jason Matthew Lee, The hacker perspective, 2014. Detail.

Internet doesn’t say much about Jason Matthew Lee or his work. So it could be useful in this case to trace his recent activity, starting from Tanya Leighton, where in summer 2013 he was included in a group show titled “Day before this place”, curated by Tara Dows. Then the solo at Marbries 4 came, in January 2014. Two months later he organized with Alexander Shulan the group show opening the new Shoot the lobster project, and then some canvases by Jason Matthew Lee appeared at NADA NY, in Tomorrow Gallery’s booth. At the same time Jason Matthew Lee was taking part to “There is nothing personal of yours to exhibit”, in Paris, at Galerie Crèvecoeur, and to “Blooming: mall of America, north side food court, across from Burger King & the bank of payphones that don’t take incoming calls”, at Bortolami. In June 2014 Jason Matthew Lee made another interesting group show at Cory Nielsen, “From whose ground heaven and hell compare”, organized by Ben Schumacher. And finally came the show Fluxia, “Trust (Vita Vel Regula)“. Isn’t this enough to launch an artist career?

January 17, 2020