ever after, they live
That dream that felt so real, a dream that we could swear happened somewhere, somehow, at some point in time — we have all felt it. Rising from our slumber, we would then wonder what all that truly meant. What comes between dreams and reality?
Meantime, in this realm of sleeping and waking, Lee Paje invites us to A DOG-EARED DREAM, an imaging of a creation story, a dream of a new life she hopes will someday come true. Here, contemporary realities bound by colonial roots are painted over with fleshy fruit, heliotrope bamboo stalks, and overgrown greenery.
“THIS STORY BEGINS WITH A BANANA TREE,” she exclaims. The tree stands proudly in the middle of the page. Its heart, in cardinal red, produces a golden droplet. Vines cascade overhead and leafless branches surround the unintelligible text dulls in comparison. It is there, the text taken from the Spanish y tagala doctrina, remains modest now. Where do we begin to make dreams a reality?
Floating, if not rising, in the center of the room is AND THERE THEY MET BUT A GLIMPSE, a leporello-style mixed media installation, staging the scene. Like a wave, it traverses across the gallery meeting the walls ever so slightly. Leaves and branches she cut pop out above the repetitive serigraphs. Making use of serigraphy, she does not make us forget. Over and over, the words mark each page like mantras we cannot banish. Dreams are always informed by enduring actualities and recurring archetypes that appear before us. Swedish playwright J. August Strinberg wrote, “I dream, therefore I exist.” They meld the magical, the fantastical, the seemingly impossible — fears laced with desires. They reveal emotions buried in the depths of our mind and the deepest wants that rouse. In dreams, we fly, we heal, and we unlock wisdom that waking life limits. Not to say that this exhibition solves or resolves. Rather, Lee proposes a narrative; a tale too vivid and clever that it would be a shame to not hope for and, perhaps, someday to eventually wake to. She says, “this exhibit is just the landscape of the land for all who do not want to be bound by binaries.” and she goes on, “just think, imagine, a world we are all accepted to freely be.”
Her words echo with every flick of the paintbrush and we are transported to PARADISE LOST AND FOUND. Foucault points to dreaming as the beginning of possibilities imagined — a start, interpreted further in this exhibition as manifesting an encounter. Here we see Lee’s once upon a time, beneath the rock formation, and during a full moon — a placeless place — beings in two meet at the edge of the lake. The figures in the oil on copper painting are silhouettes of waves, gender-free beings, roaming the newfoundland. Beings that first shed their skins from Unexpurgated, a solo exhibit reworking popular tales to alternative reconfigurations, that deviated from our realm to this one she is conjuring.
These are the dreams within us and often, they are better than the stories that we are told. This is a world that could be better than the one we are in. Until we wake to realities, to stories, to facts we can make sense of, every brush stroke is the beginning of a promise from the story that can still be. Until difficult realities are faithfully presented in spaces we can learn from, Lee Paje will keep dreaming. This is her: dog-earing a dream, marking time in contemplation of what could be, telling stories of our world unbound. And by then, maybe, we could know what all this truly means. (eyb)
A Dog-Eared Dream is Lee Paje’s latest exhibit that features works on paper and copper on view at West Gallery from 10 August to 9 September 2023. In her continuing exploration of painting, printmaking, and installation, Lee Paje presents new works that take off from her three-month residency in Leipzig, Germany. The exhibit opens on 10 August 2023 at Gallery 4, West Gallery.
Foucault, Michel. Dream, Imagination & Existence. Review of Existential Psychology & Psychiatry, 1986.
Strindberg, August. The Confession of a Fool. Small, Maynard & Company, 1913.