Detail from The Heart of the Reef, by Lee James Pantas



Artist Statement

Lee James Pantas
My work is characterized by highly colorful and detailed imagery in a sea of fluid and luminous layers of color.  With a strong emphasis on fantasy, mysticism, and nature, it fuses the realms of the real with the imaginary. In creating a painting, my technique involves two distinct phases, the first being completely spontaneous and the other involving much attention to detail and a reliance on intuition. In the first phase, the canvas is placed horizontally and layers of liquid color are poured over the surface. This phase is characterized by the use of highly fluid acrylic paint, manipulation of the canvas and wet paint, and can best be described as a deliberate collaboration with the natural and spiritual forces present in my life at that time. I start each painting with absolutely no preconceived idea of what I want to it to be, confident that by being open and receptive, shapes and elements will emerge that I can build upon later.

The second phase of my process is one where the painting is placed vertically on an easel and I add in the details. This stage is one of amplification and reinforcement of any significant or meaningful effects formed in the initial stage, and inclusion of other additional elements such as shapes and forms. As the work progresses, significant forms may emerge. Only after the painting is completed is it then named. My paintings take up to six months to a year to complete, sometimes longer and I occasionally work on more than one at a time. My primary, early influences include Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, Sonia Delaunay, Robert McCall, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro.

My current body of work is motivated by a deep concern for the well-being of our oceans, and is entitled "Liza's Reef". This ten-year project stated in 2005 and includes a series of paintings of an imaginary coral reef as well as the creation and ongoing maintenance of an environmental defense website. My overall intent of the project, through my paintings and the website, is to draw attention to the dire straits our oceans are in -whole species are being overfished to extinction, pollution is rampant and increasing, and coral reefs, mangroves and other important habitats are disappearing at an alarming, unprecedented rate. These situations need to be reversed, and the Liza's Reef project is my effort to help bring this about.

My paintings, with their high degree of fantasy, and fusion of two natural realms, coral reefs and outer space, seem to place me in two overlapping groups of artists -the surrealists, and contemporary visionary ocean painters.

Prints of Paintings & Drawings by Lee James Pantas