December 5, 2022

At first glance, these didn’t quite seem like Mike Lee works. The color palette is there, that almost technological precision is there, like digital prints hand-painted. But what used to be more figurative has become illusions of life, a hint of a figure but ghostly. It is almost as if he is at a battle with his tools, to understand what to show and what to leave to an imagination. The results are thrilling for an artist with a masterful hand and ingenuity in his technique for years now. 

“Gaming culture was a big part of my adolescence and a form of escape,” Lee says. “As a child, the fascination with war was tied to a level of fantasy and excitement, but approaching adulthood I developed a better understanding of the true consequences. The rise of the internet and access to widespread information provided me an insight to the immense catastrophes as well as the discrepancies of the media’s encapsulation of reality.”

His solo show, No Man’s Land, on view at Half Gallery in NYC, feels confident and delberate in his new focus on surface and story. It’s a quiet nod to conflicts in life and in politics, also an understanding that humanity has shifted over the course of the last three years. Lee is up for the challenge of the moment. —Evan Pricco