Strange yet sentimental figures star in a new series inspired by border controversies in the US.
When looking at art in the era of Trump, it's natural to think of political magazine covers and flying baby blimps. But artist Mike Lee's new series I've Missed You is taking on the headlines in an unusual and abstract way.
Inspired by the recent forced separations of families at the US/Mexico border, I've Missed You is made up of CGI-looking oil paintings made up of spherical, feature-less forms that convey some very human emotions. Coming from a digital media background devoid of political commentary, this is Mike's first step onto the soapbox following his outrage over the border separations.
"Having lived and worked in a largely Hispanic community in New York state," Mike tells Digital Arts, "I would often hear stories and anxieties of separation as I went about my day – from neighbours, shopkeepers and taxi drivers, the idea of separation under Trump’s policies had left a community with paralysed with fear.
"It therefore made sense to manifest what was happening all around me into a new series – although I wanted to flip reverse this fear, depicting the sense of unity that had come about through adversity."
Mike has certainly achieved this through the comforting poses of his figures in union, despite their lack of human features.
"Although the characters are essentially ‘characterless’, they represent the people, stories and richness of my neighbourhood," he argues. "For that reason the series has been particularly sentimental – I know these characters well."
It's that sentimental humanity which is the reason why Mike refutes any tags of being 'political.'
"I don’t necessarily view this series as ‘political’," he says. "They are about humanity - the power of unity and collectivity. The most important thing to me is the emotional connection people have with my work."
Dutch readers can catch I've Missed You at The Garage Gallery in Amsterdam.
Check out more of Mike's work at http://mikelee.one/