Lee Harvey is living and working in New York City, although he still maintains a studio here in Jacksonville. His new works are at the top of his form in his career to date.
The new series incorporates some of Harveys established Iconography into the images.
In this one for example, the Marie Antoinette Heads have been altered to take on the features of his "Muse" series. She's been painted blue to give her the classic colors of Hindu deities. In the Harvey universe, Marie Antoinette is usually used to mean the callous greedy one per center capitalism that underlies global politics. She wears the notoriously misattributed cake from "Let them eat cake" on her head proudly, mocking the effete detractors. For Harvey, it really doesnt matter whether or not the quote was a slander, it represented a truth which his Queen no longer gives a shit about if people think she actually said it.
Also his rapid Deflation meme symbol, 5 cents is included. In the past six Harvey series, the little price tag is used to evoke the Great Depression and ghoulishly hint at a greater one yet to come.
Lee's world view includes the suggestion that the so called independent media is more than happy to lend its imprimatur to corporatism, and so in this piece we get the CNBC logo. Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine is alluded to by the Anarchy Symbol, and at the bottom runs his black star bar representing a kind of hybrid Soviet/Orwellian socialism.
There is free candy as an added enticement, of course.
This is archetypical Lee Harvey work. Biting satire, chaos and a grim warning about the shape of things yet to come.
The next couple are a kind of commentary on the mind expansionism of eastern religion and the grotesque marketing of things that might be dangerous for you in the pursuit of profit. In the Harvey universe, we are constantly reminded of grim irony espoused by modern Conspiracy Theory. It plays on the idea that LSD was foisted on the public during the "Consciousness Revolution" of the 60s (think of the Beatles and the Maharishi) as a method of blunting and controlling the youth revolt. The irony, according to Conspiriologists is that LSD backfired on the reactionary elements of the Police State and ended up expanding the minds of the 60s intellectuals.
In these two works he tweaks the viewer with the crude racist depictions of near eastern 'savages'. They are caricatures of the worst kind of colonial bigotry, and they stand behind both the marketing and the mind expansion as thuddingly luddite opportunists. Again we have the deflationary icons and the 'international' branding.
In another Made in India canvass, Harvey blends the warpaint of the crude savages with his ongoing 'Muse' figure. As though to imply that there is a visceral western muse behind the mask of the imaginary savages. Still with the overlayers of the economic collapse iconography, the dangerous mind expansion being crassly advertised for children, but behind it all a callow thoughtless and ultimately western muse.
This new series is Trademark Lee Harvey. Brilliant, nuanced, insulting, provocative.
Find more of his work at http://www.leeharveyinc.com
article by Stephen Dare