I am a figurative expressionist. When I was in school everything was abstract expressionism. Because the figure just wasn’t done, after college I went to New York and studied at the Art Students League and I was painting figures -- from life and from people on the streets of New York. Through a fellow league member I attended meetings at the Figurative Alliance on the lower eastside with, a group of artists who were rebelling against abstract and minimalist painting the galleries showed almost exclusively.
I am inspired by Richard Diebenkorn who introduced figures into his abstract compositions and Cezanne, who, from a realist tradition abstracted the figure, and to the San Francisco Bay figure artists like David Park and their painterly, expressionist style. The problems relating to figure and ground coming from an abstract and post-photography era continue to challenge me, that is, how to reconcile the freedom of abstraction with objective subject matter.
I carry with me something I was told as a young artist, Georges Braque said, “One must not imitate that which one wishes to create…” I work intuitively and do not use photos preferring to work from imagination or from life. A painting is about paint, versus an illustration which is about an idea that can be reproduced without losing any of its original quality. That is to say, I do not make pictures which are of something; I make paintings which are something.
- Margie Lee