Saturday night, Lawrence Lee let his alter ego out to play at the opening of his exhibit "Beautiful Son" at the spacious Moody Gallery. The opening was wedged at the end of a street-long succession of gallery openings.
The black-and-white ink-on-paper paintings were based on a story he wrote five years ago about a prince who is kidnapped and sold as a slave to a wealthy family. What ensues is a series of trippy trials as the prince attempts his escape to freedom. Thing is, Lee isn't a writer, so the only way to properly portray the characters of his story was to draw them, he says.
What began as one story branched out into many, with the same "beautiful son" as the central character. His prince had exaggerated facial features that included wide-set eyes, a big nose and thick, white lips.
The action shots in each painting were also in-your-face, from daring rides atop a huge horse with four spindly, little legs, boxing matches or a tricked-out automobile ride with four other cohorts, all accented by flying and floating bugs and animals.
"He's got this amazing imagination," said gallery owner Betty Moody.
Imaginative indeed. The perspectives were wacky, with a huge car that rode on itty-bitty wheels and the main character, himself a giant-headed creature with tiny six- and seven-fingered hands. According to the artist, however, his prince is merely a facet of his personality, developed during a quiet and lonely childhood. To combat the loneliness, he got lost in drawing and Nintendo video games.
"I created my own little worlds," he says.
From there, his imagination grew to overactive proportions, so much so that he created another identity for himself in exchange for the shy one he was assigned.
The result? "Beautiful Son."
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Little pieces of poetry are pinned to the paintings, giving viewers a sense of the narrative of the "Beautiful Son."
"We traveled to where there are other stars...and hoped to find to find you there...," Lee wrote on the painting of the car and star-riding quartet.
"...tell me the truth and I will never forget," was pinned to the namesake piece, Beautiful Son.
Through August 6. For information, contact Moody Gallery, 713-526-9911.