Lee Relvas. Some Phrases

13 Apr 2017 – 21 May 2017

Callicoon Fine Arts

New York
New York, United States

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  • The nearest subway stops are the B and D trains at Grand Street, the J train at Bowery, and the F, J, M and Z trains at Delancey-Essex. The Spring Street stop on the 6 train is also convenient about 6 blocks away.

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Callicoon Fine Arts is pleased to present Some Phrases, Lee Relvas’ first exhibition with the gallery.


Speaking through a spare formal and material vocabulary, these sculptures evoke three-dimensional drawings, handwriting as a record of thinking, meandering lines of music, and the everyday choreography of gesture.  

Made from construction-grade plywood, and joined with epoxy putty, a substance often used in plumbing, these materials are transformed from disposable renovation materials into life-sized physical presences through the devotional and perverse labor of sanding, a technique that changes the material, in effect, by repetitively rubbing it, until it is soft as flour. The sculptures are both outline, drawing mass and volume by demarcating space within it, and skeleton, imagining mass and volume building upon it.  Even as they are smoothed into symbolic lines that are the translation of the observable world, they still maintain their bodily viscerality; like skin, what these pieces feel like to touch is always visible. 

This body of work is poised between two modes of looking at the body: compelled towards making bodies to physicalize ephemeral moments of interior experience, but wary of the representation of bodies which can bend towards surveillance, categorizing bodies and erasing interior experience.  These sculptures look for a language that speaks through bodies’ movements, gestures, and actions. Rather than named and definitively identified, each sculpture is titled with a verb, such as Hiding, Adorning, Withholding, Thinking, Offering, Mourning, and Lifting. As the viewer walks around them, the viewer’s translation of gesture changes based on their position in the room, and each moment stretches and contracts in time.  The moment slips in and out of definition; each sculpture has a relationship to every other sculpture that is constantly shifting.

The show also includes a free booklet of writings that acts as a spatial and temporal extension of the work.  Part interpretation of the works and part melodic lines moving in counterpoint to the work, this booklet contains “Lee’s Ley Lines”, a joyful riff from a shapeshifting “I” sensuously careening around the work by the writer Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, and “Open Loop”, a polyphonic meditation of rhythms found in states of disorientation by the artist Sid M. Dueñas. It also includes a piece of fiction by Relvas, the short story “An Interview about Love”, which explores two moments of political cataclysm – October 2001 and October 2016 – and the complicated layering of emotion and experience within screen-mediated global events.

This exhibition is an invitation to experience the body as a mind and the mind as a body.  It attempts to counter the alienating and divisive fantasies of endless growth and disposable resources, policed boundaries, and surveillance as truth, with dreams of the everyday, in which each person is a doorway, our interior experiences are truths, and our movements are mysterious and free.  

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Exhibiting artists

Lee Relvas


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