Facial Expressions & Joseph Lee’s Art

Dec 8

My keen fascination with human nature leads to my appreciation of artwork and artists who depict abstractly human faces. Facial expressions tell us more about a person than any physical attribute. We judge whether to befriend a person based on their facial expressions and body language. Often, we bond with people whose facial expressions exude honesty; faces that express dishonesty, we tend to refrain from connecting. 

Universal Facial Expressions

According to Charles Darwin, the perception and expression of facial expressions are very similar around the world. To expound on the latter observation, Paul Ekman, Ph.D. of the University of California Medical School at San Francisco, further posed the research question: “Are there universal facial expressions of emotion?”. Ekman’s findings indicated we share some universal facial expressions of emotions. Although these expressions may be influenced by our parents, media, and culture. Hence, why we are drawn to the artwork of human portraits. 

Undefined Human Faces in Art

A few months ago, I discovered an intriguingly captivating abstract human portraits by the actor/artist Joseph Lee. His overall body of work focuses on human faces disguised with colorful knife strokes and textile meshes, creating an intricately layered texture. The faces in the portraits are masked and sometimes revealing only one eye creating a sense of mystery arousing the need for further exploration.

joseph Lee Bio Picture
Sourced from here.

An exploration leading to my realization that the universal traits of facial expressions shared among us humans allowed me to mentally sketch the person’s face based on their head and body posture. Also, I wondered how someone who suffers from the neurological disorder prosopagnosia – the inability to recognize faces, also known as face blindness or facial agnosia – would react to the paintings. What would be their connotations of these paintings? Needless to say, facial expressions and head posture are communication instrument of human emotions.

painting pitre by joseph lee
PITRE, OIL ON CANVAS, 2019
painting state of gray 2019 BY JOSEPH LEE
STATE OF GRAY, OIL PASTEL, 2019
painting In The Flesh by joseph lee
INTHEFLESH, OIL PASTEL, 2018
NEW ENGLISH, OIL PASTEL, 2019 BY JOSEPH LEE
NEW ENGLISH, OIL PASTEL, 2019
BLASON OIL 2018 PAINTING BY JOSEPH LEE
BLASON, OIL, 2018
INBETWEENME, OIL, 2018 BY JOSEPH LEE
INBETWEENME, OIL, 2018
PAINTING IDENTITYCHRIST BY JOSEPH LEE
IDENTITYCHRIST

Joseph Lee’s art provokes reflection and evocates mystical wonderment. I missed his exhibition in early November in Los Angeles, I am on the lookout for his next one. Follow him on Instagram joeyunlee he is very engaged with his followers. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy his paintings and visit his website. Amazingly, he also sells selectively limited prints of his paintings. 

Images sourced here.

Explore other featured artists here.

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