"In the process of evolution, it hasn't been long since man has looked human. Man's beastly appearance is no longer evident, but in mentality and many other ways, we're still like wild beasts even though we wear clothes and live within the bounds of civilisation" -Daniel Lee)
Daniel Lee expresses a profound desire to dialogue the resounding spirit and capability of art. His signature motif - the 'manimal' - is a striking half-human, half-animal creature achieved in heightened artistic freedom and by pushing the boundaries of contemporary graphic art. His artworks distort the unique periphery between mediums, being neither quite drawing, painting nor photograph, but an amalgamation in between; "A computer helps you create what is in your mind" (Daniel Lee)
Lee's original inspiration for his works came from his desire to tangibly visualise the mythological creatures he heard about as a child. Indeed, throughout time and continent the fantastical narrative and even worship of anthropomorphic beings is vastly recorded. In Lee's first tentative creation of such art, he realised the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac in physical 'manimal' form, and as such adhered to his ideal in revealing the veridical nature of man.
The characters Lee creates retain their distinctively human appearance, yet subtly adopt animalistic traits to their features. To achieve such flawless mergence, Lee painstakingly draws and paints in the animal features onto the human face using Photoshop.
Faces' (Lot 631), created in 2004, unusually portrays both human with animal features and animal wearing a human mask. In this work, the 'human' pig - notably more animalistic than Lee's other works - stands on hoofed feet, fully clothed and with arms folded in either discontent or indifference. Meanwhile, the pig bears a woman's mask and strung up behind the pair is an array of other such theatrical masks of various human form. Such juxtaposition between the two subjects highlights Lee's conviction that we are only separated from animal behaviour by our own superficially created and imposed civility.
In both Origin Sequence (Lot 632) and Self-Portraits (Lot 634) - created in 1999 and 2004 respectively - we find Lee's visual rendition of Darwin's 'Theory of Evolution'. Origin Sequence skillfully tracks the progression of sea-dwelling vertebrate to land-dwelling vertebrate as the transformation from fish, to monkey, to man enfolds. Self-Portraits is a personal portrayal depicting Lee's self-evolution from monkey to man, here captured in a flawless and concise yet delicate development. Lee has tantalisingly offered us a glimpse into the next stage of human evolution in this work, as we find Lee's envisaged next step flawlessly visualised in the final subject. As the title suggests, Lee perceives each image to be an astute representation of his character in disregard to the physical form.
108 Windows (Lot 633) presents Lee's many manimal characters - some humourous, some terrifying, all captivating - their faces and hence animalistic features heightened by the individual circular focus of the composition. This is a fascinating overture of Lee's artistic body of work, poignantly emphasising the skill, dedication and ground-breaking imagination that has gained the artist his renown for expanding the frontier of contemporary art.