New Visuality At According To Mcgee, York. Interview With Painter Lee Boxall.

New Visuality, that facilitator of exhibitions for the top slice of meritorious art punks everywhere, has settled in York for early June 2012. We’ve already met Matthew Fletcher, one of the exhibitees in New Visuality’s collaboration with York white cube contemporary art gallery ‘According to McGee’, and I’ve returned to York looking forward to New Visuality’s director Maria Roger’s introduction to Lee Boxall, a painter just moved from the North of England. York is a good place to meet artists. The baroque bombast of it’s architectural context will always encourage creative patter, and the bars, oh man, the bars – I’ve always had a soft spot for Evil Eye but it is to VJ’s that Boxall invites me, and, never wanting to displease the potentially drama queen minefield that is the artist’s sensibilities, I concur: VJ’s do great beer, and Boxall insists he is ready to talk, so that’s that.
I turn up and am immediately greeted by a confident young man, striding across from the bar, with hand outstretched. I don’t know why I’m always pleasantly surprised whenever I meet Northern artists. They seem to share an easy etiquette, and are as far away from the twitching, achingly introspective artist as you can get. I mentioned this to According to McGee helmswoman Ails McGee last time we met, and she pointed out that a young artist who wanted to live up to the myth that ‘artists have to be beyond business, in fact have to have no interest in profit, scalability, selling and marketing, and are somehow more in tune with the universe than the rest of us, do art a great disservice. We’re working with artists who know as much about what it is to be successful in the current financial climate as they do about expressing themselves. Greg (McGee, co-director of According to McGee) met Lee last week and was instantly impressed by his focus, his proactivity and his instinct for connecting with collectors. Sounds good to me!”
Nevertheless, Boxall’s confident urbanity had me on the back foot for a while. All my fault. The cliché that artists have to be awkward introverts is, as Mrs McGee rightly points out, ‘disingenous and damaging’. Boxall has all the blithe and competent charm of a manual worker talking about the practicalities of a job they love doing. Refreshing, it must be said, in this age of the artist as tortured alien. Lee insists on getting the wine in and is ready to talk, his North East accent strangely offset by a readiness to talk about aesthetic beauty and the power of poetry. How does he see his work evolving? “I use my art to both ask and answer questions. By exploring people and place and heavily rooted in my poetry, my work is never protracted, but parallels my life experience and the world that I pass by. I see my work continuing in this trend.” So far, so deep. I ask him if the relatively short run of the show (‘Painting: A New Visuality Project’ lasts for 5 days), but he seems chipper: “Yes the exhibition is short. The narrowing of time though should focus myself and the other exhibitors to be selective about work shown and determined to leave a lasting impression after the exhibition has been concluded.” I point out that Boxall’s work seems calmer somehow than the work from some his co-exhibitees – Sam Jefferies has his canvas of Cameron blazed with the word ‘c*nt’, for example – but Boxall seems non-plussed with the yearn to provoke: “I draw and I paint relative to my mood, my confusion or my understanding of life and world. Provocation of the viewer is objective and whilst I want to make the viewer think I’m not prepared to loose my honesty to achieve this alone.” York always seems to me a strange place for a contemporary artist in that the weight of its heritage seems to outweigh any concern for breaking boundaries. I ask him how he sees his work fitting into the local cultural landscape. “Having recently moved to York in the year York celebrates its 800 year anniversary of city status I want to explore the cities evolution and its people. I want to do a portfolio of work that explores what I see in 800 hours or 33.3 days, to explore how the culture and people and diversity of the city have changed.”
You can’t say fairer than that. An ambitious and modest artist, based in york, hungry for more work. New Visuality certainly knows how to source its foot soldiers. Here at The Northern Line we’re very much looking g forward to seeing more of Boxall’s work up in According to McGee and beyond. We’ll keep you posted.

By Viv on June 1, 2012

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3 Comments » RSS Comment Feed

  1. I have just read the article. Very good article but the work lacks substance and it very poor in its colour. Dark and moody must be the theme. A tortured soul on a tortured canvas. Not recommended!!!

    Comment by Sue — August 27, 2012 @ 3:08 am

  2. Lee does indeed have a sensitive side to him, and is no stranger to trouble, but uses his art and sport to get him back on track:
    Not sure about the ‘not recommended’ bit, though, Sue. These small paintings don’t do his work justice. I would urge you to keep a more open mind.

    Comment by Viv — September 6, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

  3. Lee Boxall , what a lovely chap and a great talent.
    I bought a painting from him last week in York market(Mon).
    To be able to talk to the artist himself was such a bonus and it was difficult choosing which picture to buy – they were all so wonderful and different !
    I wish him all the success he deserves.I will definately be buying more of his paintings when I am next in York.
    Please do pay him a visit , you won’t regret it !!

    Comment by Linda Wilson — April 20, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

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