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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Lee Harvey Roswell

Lee Harvey Roswell

''Lee Harvey Roswell's artwork is simply a portrayal of life, the attention focused on the bonds between suffering and humor. Hence, the many appearances in his work of adversity's most beloved target... the one that bounces back, the Clown. And all the world's a stage in Lee's eyes.
Born and raised in the small town of Freefall, New York, Lee Harvey Roswell was a shy, melancholic daydreamer who exhibited an early aptitude for drawing and the arts. Always marching to a drum that only he could hear, Lee eventually dropped out of school and became a fixed, if peculiar presence at his local library. "Self taught" as the art world likes to say. And, like any good ol' American adventure story, the day came when Lee headed for the sunny promise of the west coast. A bad bit of fortune, he didn't recognize the path he was traveling down was, in fact, the proverbial low road. Casting all his belongings to the wind, living on the streets, eruptive with fits of depression, and spiraling into addictions that nearly destroyed him, Lee was looking like a Van Gogh minus the chance of a posthumous success story. Luckily this little fairytale of a bio ends happily, and Lee did find his way to sobriety, stability, and success. Lee now enjoys working avidly at his craft, pushing himself to new levels, and regarding his profession as one of the most privileged of life-long studies. His work is shown and collected worldwide. Lee Harvey Roswell lives in San Francisco, and thanks his lucky stars for the role he gets to play in this life.''

You all know the Shakespearian line, "nothing will come of nothing," right? A seemingly simple line really. "Nothing will come of nothing." Sure! This is King Lear's response to his loving daughter, Cordelia's refusal to voice her love for her father for the sake of topping her sisters' ridiculously competitive praises.
But in this first scene of the play, Lear is greatly mistaken in his math. A great deal comes about from that first "nothing." A wake of human drama, disinheritance, deception and seduction, greed and revenge, madness, and death lies within those pages as proof. So, "nothing will come of nothing" has an alchemical esotery to it.
To me, this makes a fine analogy for the tradition of painting. In painting you have a canvas, or panel, or whatever surface you are working with the side of a beached whale, whatever it might be.
From the point of visual intrigue or physiology, nothing. Then the painter takes his pigments and their respective vehicles, his tools, his brushes, and through a process of eye to hand prowess he covers that surface. But again, physiologically, spiritually speaking, the painter has only covered nothing with nothing. And this, my friends, is where I introduce my attitude toward aesthetics and craftsmanship. I've watched painters haphazardly spill their paints, splatter them around, make great messes, and still end up with nothing more than nothing. That said, I've also seen painters so studied and accomplished that for all their acquired skills they show nothing after nothing after nothing, and each time it still it amounts to nothing. An overeducated cookie-cutter shaped like a zero. However, a skilled hand attached to the right nervous system, something with the character and the soul necessary for the task, can elevate the very same materials, the very same nothing, to the loftiest heights of human revelation. He can pull our great philosophical obsessions out into the stark light of observation and all out of nothing!
So in painting and my attempts to achieve this ideology, I am not interested in abstract art, or cutesy sentimental art, or childish art, or political art, or graffiti art, or post-Picasso laziness, or what breakfast cereals you ate and what television programs you watched when you were a kid. None of that matters to me. Without the least hint of apology I tell you to me it's nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. No, I'm interested in exactly this: creating narratives involving the fantastic images there to be culled forth from those fertile depths of the creative, neurotic-like mind. Concrete objects in mad motion, reflecting all the seductive, terrifying elements of existence.
The inarguable forerunner of the senses is the eye. We are primarily an optically reliant species. So, as pictorial illusionists transforming nothing into artifacts of spiritual sustenance, I'm holding the potential painter up, not just as an admirable tradesman, but much, much more. He resides as a high-priest over that all-devouring human reality, a conducting channel through which nothing triumphantly becomes something.

-LHR, 04.01.07, SF

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