Contemporary realist painter Lee Price paints women in intimate, often isolated settings, offering a glimpse into the world of compulsive eating and women’s complicated relationship with food. Aerial perspectives on the figures, which symbolize the subject’s judgmental inner gaze, reveal private moments of indulgence as the female figure finishes off an entire chocolate cake or devours a fast food order, remnants of the meal scattered around her. Price has painted within her Women and Food series for over 25 years, but in her upcoming exhibition “Disillusion,” the New York artist offers a more empowering point of view.
“People took solace in the Women and Food series, but I heard a lot of really painful stories,” says Price. “It made me want to paint something more hopeful.” For “Disillusion,” Price will present her Portrait Series and Surfacing Series as a body of work that overcomes the idea of shameful compulsivity and distorted self-image.
Price’s transition from the Women and Food series begins with the Surfacing Series, which borrows the bathtub motif and similar aerial perspectives. The women in these paintings are not indulging, however, but are undergoing a shift as they move beneath turbulent water, pressing the sides of the tub with their feet and hands as if about to emerge from this womb-like environment. These women embody the exhibition’s title as they fight against the illusion of their body’s distorted image through the water, experiencing what appears to be a process of self-transformation.
The Portrait Series represents the other side of this shift. In these paintings, Price is dressed in brightly colored or patterned clothing that merges with the backdrop of the painting, expanding her presence to fill the entire canvas. The figure levels the viewer with a challenging gaze as she enjoys a single cupcake or satisfying snack, symbolizing nourishment rather than shame. These women no longer hide with self-judgment; instead they have destroyed the distorted illusions they once held over themselves and stand with renewed and empowered authority.
Price’s creative process is extensive as every scenario is staged from life and professionally photographed before it’s painted in her hyper realistic style. Price is her own muse so for her bathtub paintings, she often spends hours in the water beneath hand-built scaffolding so the photographer can capture aerial viewpoints. For her Portrait Series, Price even sewed many of her own dresses and backdrops from handpicked fabric. View the photos below for a closer look at Price’s process and see “Disillusion” at EVOKE Contemporary from 9/29 – 10/28.
Photos from @leepricestudio