Lex Braes


Oil Paintings by Lex Braes
15 October 2018- 15 January 2019

Scottish painter Lex Braes starts with a thought and an image, and then reduces that image to a structure of a few lines, maybe five lines or a single endless line, looped in a Celtic knot. With oil paint on plaster he mines a motif that he first found in 2009, using organic geometry to discover shapes, creating rhomboids, parallelograms, and abstract forms that suggest and reminisce about ancient memories. Some of Braes’s forms recall the keening, wailing figure of a man on a Greek krater, seen on a trip to Athens. Others are derived from memories of a reclining female nude. These are indelible memories that sometimes become the joined lines that form two shapes, an abstract form, or uplifted arms signaling mourning.

Poignantly marked with ground iron oxide reds mixed with linseed oil on linen or plaster, his images are reminders of a fleeting impression as it crosses the painter’s mind. Perhaps once or maybe a hundred times in a day. Too many times in an hour punctuated with a change of material or surface. His reductive paintings are layered and built up on plastered surfaces, sometimes ground down and broken off, or reconfigured, to end up with the most fragile simplicity. Strong statements, given in bare minimal colors that remind of earth, first strokes like cave paintings, blue water and sky.

The painter’s daily movement travels between small oil sketches on paper to rounded sculpted forms, connected to remnants of wood, or paintings on linen. New drawings of graphite marks emerge from beneath layers and layers of an empty space, formed by painting around the reserved place on the paper, allowing the viewer to peek at an original space of emptiness. Lex Braes captures an essential quality undetected in our daily frenetic lives. He connects us to a living memory of the enduring spirit with connection from the past.

Curated by Lisa A. Banner
The Institute
1 East 78th Street, New York, NY 10075