Leland Lee, An International Star from Taiwan
Text: Suzan P. Babcock
images: courtesy of Karen Lee
There is something about Leland Lee’s smile that immediately captures the attention, for it is a smile that completely illuminates his entire face, while beckoning a smile in response. And there is something about Leland Lee’s artwork, which causes people to instantly stop in their tracks and want to spend their time carefully looking at it.
As an internationally acclaimed savant artist, Leland began using colorful paintings as a means for communicating by the age of two. When he was seven years old, he was identified as a ‘gifted US artist,’ by the Los Angeles Times, as their choice for ‘The One Hundred Remarkable Kids Award’ (1999). By the time Leland was 16, he was internationally recognized and awarded honors as an ‘Artist of Genius’ and one of the most talented painters in the world.
What makes Leland and his art so special? It’s his ability to express with vivid recall the stored memories of places he has visited, and people that he has observed and/or interacted with, along with his whimsical and humorous take on these memories. Based on these memories of recall, Leland recreates the images, which burst forth into vibrant colorful explosions of acuity. Each piece is expressed in great detail and depth using a kaleidoscope of breathtaking colors, which have now become internationally recognized as Leland’s ‘signature stamp’.
One of my favorite and recurring characters in Leland’s paintings is that of Mr. Moose. Look for him everywhere as he humorously interacts with Leland’s memories of Paris, Rome, Russia and Prague, and among the lively and endearing images of US western cowboys or scenes from Taipei city life, including Taipei 101 and his grandparents’ famous Astoria Confectionery Shop, in Taipei’s Wuchang Street.
The way Leland’s artwork vividly captures his amusement, joy, wonderment and often thoughtprovoking reactions about his travels, adventures, daily life and those who influence him in such a joyful and pure manner is one of the reasons that I have become such a fan of Leland’s work. The other reason is that whenever I am with Leland or viewing his art, I know, instinctively, that I am in the presence of greatness and I am humbled by this knowledge.
This invitation, to participate in one of the most important world forums for the dissemination and illumination of current developments in international art, is housing paintings by 82 artists from all over the world, in such historical venues as the Pavilions in the Giardini and in the Arsenale, as well as other locations around Venice, from June 4th to November 27th, 2011.
The collateral event, Future Pass, that Leland was invited to participate in is a special exhibition which intends to present the current creative and inspirational work being generated from the Asian contemporary art scene, along with showcasing new artists of the 21st century who are aware of their roots of heritage, their environments and their ecoresource possibilities for the 21st century.
The Future Pass collateral event was co-organized by the Fondazione Claudio Buziol, the Today Art Museum in Beijing. Leland’s work will be displayed at the Fondazione Claudio Buziol, in Venice from June 2nd to November 20th, 2011, then it will travel with the exhibition to the Wereldmuseum, in Rotterdam, in December 2011, as well as to the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, in Taichung, Taiwan (May to July 2012) and to the Today Art Museum, in Beijing (2012).
Just as I was about to write the conclusion to this article, I received a short email note from Leland’s mother telling me that they had just received news from the 20th World Congress Paris – Palais des Congres, informing Leland that he was being invited to hold his own solo exhibition, in Paris, as part of next year’s World Congress, which will be held from July 21st to 25th, 2012.
As Leland’s fame continues to grow, he remains grounded and nurtured by a loving family. His mother, Karen Lee, continues to devote her time and energy to guiding her son, while maintaining a simple and practical lifestyle, based on her faith. “We are truly blessed,” Karen says, “to have Leland in our family and in our lives. He shows us the true meaning of God’s love, each and every day.” Yes, there is something very special about Leland Lee… something that will continue to catch and hold our attention for a long time to come.
http://www.communitycenter.org.tw October 2011
Suzan Babcock has been associated with The Center since 198, as a counselor, lecturer and contributor to Centered on Taipei. In her free time, she likes to get together with friends to try out new fusion cooking ideas, writing, and enjoying the things that make Taiwan such a special place to live.
To learn more about Leland and his amazing life story, please go to his
website at: http://www.Lelandlee.wordpress.com