James Lecce’s new cycle of paintings connects his signature poured acrylic technique with processes and inspirations from decades ago. During the intervening years, Lecce has mastered the technical challenges involved in creating paintings by precisely controlling pools, flows, and cascades of acrylic polymer emulsion. The resulting works have nearly flawless glossy surfaces, with whorls of color that loop and stream through multiple layers, both luminous and opaque. His current exhibition was inspired by a chance perusal of his older work, and combines paintings in the poured style with canvases that revisit a more exuberant pigment application.
Lecce groups his new work into sets of three, with one painting each from distinct series titled Glide, Bounce, and Flash. Each set of three represents a color from a modified color wheel of red, magenta, blue, green, and gold. The Glide and Bounce paintings employ the range of pouring and pooling techniques Lecce has developed over the years. Their compositions convey a sense of rhythmic movement, fluid growth, and a sensual coalescence of color, line and form. For the artist, inclusions of white represent a crisp purity; black, the grittiness that is life; and silver, the alchemy of the painting process.
Alternately, the Flash paintings are hybrids of earlier work, and begin with the application of multiple layers of gesso to form surfaces that are smooth yet textured. Lecce introduces paint wildly onto these staid backgrounds via pouring, dripping, staining, and wet-on-wet brushwork. This initial framework is augmented with loose, radiating streaks of vibrant color suggesting explosions, fireworks, and blooms. The nucleus of each painting is formed by thinning the paint into a raw, granular, and cracking surface that simultaneously suggests accretion and dissolution. Displayed together, the paintings imply elegant coalescence and rapid dispersion, in which the roles of precursor and descendant are fluid. For Lecce, the Flash paintings are complementary climaxes to the fluid refinement of the Glide and Bounce series.
Lecce cites the importance of music and travel to his creative process: “The beats and rhythms of music and the force of a great voice can be incredibly moving, and I strive for this same kind of power in my work…Additionally, the act of traveling provides me fuel for creativity: the planning and anticipation of getting there; the thrill of arrival; seeing, learning about and experiencing new places and things; and the profound memories travel provides….My goal would be that the work provides the same kinds of feelings of freedom, exploration and rejuvenation.”