Language Beyond Doubt: The Photography Of John Clayton Lee


The image work of Los Angeles-based artist John Clayton Lee draws tactile connection between seemingly disparate moments: the arc of a cheekbone is mimicked by a faded tarpaulin caught in the wind, and ocean foam mirrors the flounces of a white dress sleeve.

Lee prefaces his artist statement with a quote from the famed French director, Robert Bresson, In this language of images, one must lose completely the notion of image. The images must exclude the idea of image. This line gives both summary to, and understanding of, Lee’s aesthetic aims. Though working in fashion and editorial, there is little commercial about the images that he creates: instead, they are imbued with a soft lyricism and what he calls, a desire for transcendence. “As an artist and image-maker, I desire immanence beyond the boundaries of understanding and limitations of the medium,” he explains. In his process of documentation, he is synthesizing the real with something less tangible: “This reconciliation with the unknown is lost in a triumph of doubt: the discontent of what is real and what is imagined, what is seen and what is felt.”

All images © John Clayton Lee

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