Full Statement
Lee Michael Altman

The following themes and perceptions are found by a process of intuition and then are expanded upon by the intellect and the heart.

The series of print Improvisations have evolved out of my collection of found-object plates and blocks, which are printed by hand and with an etching press. The unexpected sources and unplanned process of these prints are a continual challenge and journey, which I always welcome.

The 20 Books Series resulted from having worked in 20 books over a two year period, in the mornings as a quick warm-up of brush strokes and washes. The range of books included the History of Japanese Painting, children's books, ledgers of numbers, foreign languages and geometry textbooks, most with clay coated paper, so the split pelican feather quills and brushes slid across quickly, with india ink, white and grey acrylic washes. The next step was to liberate the pages from their bindings, and collage mount them 4 square or in strips on buff and grey Rives paper. The calligraphic and gestural strokes evoke a kind of iconography innate to "unintentional" focus and brushwork. Eventually, the funny faces out numbered the abstractions by half, with gleeful combinations of both ....

The Key interests me as a form and concept, which resonates in our language as a signifier of essential change for better under-standing, hopefully something which will open a whole, new vision of life. Keys can both open and close. The wooden keys which I use to print and paint with on paper and canvas, originate from thrift stores, and were once used in kitchens to hang metal house keys on. Sometimes a key is just a key.

The Threshold Series are improvised from the paper bases that I work on when making images with found objects. They hold an unexpected light, which is both radiant and whole, and without direct references. The discovery process of this series seeks to reveal transformation and unity.

The Grid also intrigues me as a form/concept, which visually relates to the sacred geometry of Greek Thought. While painting this series, the Grid becomes more than a mapping system – it becomes something enigmatic, generatively centered and universal. The Circles, Triangles and Grids come to the studio as discarded cultural objects, mostly children's toys. They transform as Platonist form, as pre-exist ideals, or metaphors.

The Acrobat Series are images and symbols that have evolved in my work over time and which I imaginatively pursue in my studio. My use of found objects, both from cultural and natural sources, offer improvisational visual play and enlarge the acrobat's associations with the world.

For me the acrobat has come to embody the life force found in nature; the artist in relation to society; humanity in relation to a higher perfection – all leaping with questions about mortality and transformation. The lyrical response of grace and agility to adversity and change is a metaphor of the creative process attempting to balance a fragmented irony with a complete whole.

Finding great vitality and solace in nature, I immerse myself in that particular threshold world of light and open space, then return to my studio in Benicia, where the creative process of being-in-the-work and searching for resolution remain elusive yet are tangible realities of the lyrical response.

back to top

back to Lee’s home page