Austin Lee Brings the Wild Creativity of Childhood Back to Fine Art in ‘Like It Is’

Posted inFine Art

There’s a freedom and charisma that comes with the early stages of finding your creative voice, and it’s sadly hard not to lose a bit of that sparkle as you get older. While education can strengthen a practice, it also often leads to bland, self-conscious work that’s afraid to do or say too much.

With this in mind, Austin Lee‘s art feels like a breath of fresh air. For over a decade, he’s brought the charming, chaotic feel of childhood back into high art institutions with his bright, expansive paintings. You can find some of his best work in the glossy, gorgeous new book Like It Is, which focuses on a recent solo exhibition at Jeffrey Deitch. Though Lee’s art often deals with the stark, adult subject matter of modern life, his scrawled handwriting and expressive, clay-like aesthetic add a sense of humor, comfort, and empathy to whatever he covers.

Pre-order Like It Is on Pacific’s website.

Once reserved to the writings of science fiction, for over a decade now Austin Lee has explored the shrinking dichotomy between the real world and virtual reality. His hypersaturated airbrush paintings are created through a combination of traditional painterly techniques, along with the latest digital tools.

This extends into Like It Is, where Lee further investigates recognizable cultural motifs and art historical imagery, spanning from archival photos and tarot cards to Vermeer paintings. Screaming with color, each psychedelic composition is partly inspired by the famous Rorschach test, a diagnostic psychological study that uses a subject’s perception of inkblots to analyze their personality characteristics and emotional functioning.

Like It Is is a softcover publication documenting Austin Lee’s recent solo exhibition at Jeffrey Deitch, as well as a series of drawings and interactive AR elements.