Jivan Lee



Jivan Lee is an oil painter based in Taos, NM.  He grew up in Woodstock, NY, and studied painting at Bard College while earning a B.A. in Biology and an M.S. in Environmental Policy.  His work explores the nature of paint as raw material, creator of image, and catalyst for emotional response, and is increasingly addressing the complexities of how humans see and shape their environment.  Jivan's paintings have been exhibited at museums and educational institutions, and covered in publications such as Fine Art Connoisseur, Southwest Art, Art Business News, and Plein Air Magazine.  In addition to painting as much as time allows, Jivan also helms the Project for Art and the Environment and occasionally teaches.

The majority of my work is done on-location and emphasizes direct observation, whether indoors or outdoors.  That said, I’ve increasingly been utilizing whatever tools seem best for a given piece and looking at the painting as the primary determinant of the means, rather than at the process as dictating the limits of the final painting.  With this shift in approach, I’ve been finding recent work demanding new-to-me tools:  sketches and other paintings, photos, poems and scribbles, sound recordings, found objects, even video.  I try to vary the sizes and formats in which I work – from multi-panel pieces to large single-panel canvases to series, in sizes from 4 x 6 inches to as large as 120 inches on a side.  I scrape and push paint with silicone spatulas and big brushes and sometimes my fingers.

Paint interests me first on a visceral level; unto itself it is such a satisfying, adaptable, enjoyable material.  Yet when arranged deliberately in certain rhythms of form and color, it also becomes a remarkable tool for helping us find this world anew – for leading us into new perceptual terrain; stimulating memories and hopes and inspiration; being a vessel for learning and feeling. 

I approach painting with a faith in and reverence for the unpredictable, “faster-than-thought” (to borrow from Alex Katz) creative impulses.  I try to respond freshly to the needs of each painting or body of work – and to navigate by balancing receptiveness to the unexpected with thoughtful planning and preparation, recognizing the necessity of adaptation along the way.  The resulting paintings lately embrace paint’s materiality – luscious, colorful, moldable, textural, inherently non-objective – as well as its image-making potential.  They go for feeling:  of a moment or place, of the satisfaction of paint as tangible substance, and of the excitement paint elicits when it dances between objective and non-objective realms.


selected solo exhibits and representation

2016 |   For the Wild  • Heinley Fine Arts • Taos, NM
              New Mexico  • LewAllen Galleries • Santa Fe, NM
              Atmosphere (Artist Focus) • Altamira Fine Art • Jackson, WY
2015 |   Hallowed Ground •
Harwood Art Center • Albuquerque, NM
2014 |   Sky Above | Earth Below • Heinley Fine Arts • Taos, NM
2013 |   Paint this Land • Heinley Fine Arts • Taos, NM
             Introducing Jivan Lee • William Havu Gallery • Denver, CO
2011 |   Recent Paintings by Jivan Gabriel Lee • Milagro Gallery • Taos, NM
2005 |   Jivan Lee: Recent Work • Campus Center Gallery, Bard College • Annandale, NY

selected awards and honors

2016 |  “Three to Watch” Artist • Fine Art Connoisseur magazine
              Finalist, Large Purchase Initiative • New Mexico Art in Public Places Program
|   Cover Image • February 2015, landscape issue • Southwest Art magazine
              Winner • 1st 2015 Showcase • ArtSlant
2014 |   Solo exhibition award • 2015 Solo Series • Harwood Art Center • Albuquerque, NM
              Winner • 3rd, 4th, & 5th 2014 Showcases • ArtSlant
2013 |   Invited panelist • SURFACE Exhibition • Harwood Art Center • Albuquerque, NM
             Best of Show • 15th Annual Masterworks of New Mexico Exhibition • Albuquerque, NM
             National Finalist • 2013 Ray Mar Art Contest
             Winner • 1st, 2nd, & 3rd 2013 showcases • ArtSlant
2012 |   Award of Excellence • ¡Encantada! 2012 • Albuquerque, NM
             Winner 3rd & 4th 2012 showcases • ArtSlant
2011 |   National semifinalist • 2011 Plein Air Salon
2008 – 2009  
|  “NM-Powered” Grant • The Art of Ag. project

Publications and Press

       •      “Artists Making Their Mark: Jivan Lee.”  Fine Art Connoisseur.  January / February 2016.  47.
       •      “Rhythms in Nature.”  American Art Collector.  December 2015.  128 - 129.
       •      “Serenading the Land.”  Southwest Art.  Bonnie Gangelhoff.  February 2015. 
               72 - 75 & Cover.
       •      “Five-Foot Paintings of Thunderstorms, Done With a Spatula.”  Plein Air Today.  Bob Bahr. 
               July 30, 2014.
       •      “Three Taos Artists under 35.”  Taos Gallery Guide.  2014.  64 - 67.
       •      “Paint this Land: An Exhibit by Jivan Lee.”  Taos News.  John Staple.  November 7, 2013. 
       •      “Jivan Lee in Taos.”  Southwest Art.  Lindsay Mitchell.  October 2013.  62.
       •      “Off the Walls: Taos, New Mexico.”  Fine Art Connoisseur.  September / October 2013.  108.
       •      “Painting a 10-foot-wide Triptych on Location.”  Plein Air Today.  Steve Doherty. 
               March 27, 2013.
       •      “Commission This!  The Delicate Dance of Painting for Hire.”  Art Business News.  
               Kevin Canfield.  Winter 2012.  34 - 37.
       •      “Painting on the Edge.”  Plein Air Magazine.  Winter 2011.  Pg. 83.
       •      “Artist Profile: Jivan Lee.”  Plein Air Magazine.  Steve Doherty.  June 22, 2011.


       •      PNC Bank • Kansas City, MO
       •      Red Willow Center • Taos, NM


2007 |  B.A. • Bard College (Five-year dual-degree program)
            M.S. in Environmental Policy • Bard Center for Environmental Policy


View Artist's Image Gallery