The Paintings of Travis Lester
Travis Lester’s large-scale paintings are driven by raw, unbridled energy. Her figures bare their wounded souls without apology, suggesting years of entrapment and suffering. And yet, within this weighty atmosphere, humor is evident in the sly faces and raucous pink and yellow blasts of color. The plaintive yet fiery phrases Lester unleashes – “righteous outrageous”, “narcissistic wound” -- are like poisoned darts delivering indignant messages to those who have transgressed. In fact, it is the outrageous, sometimes humorous element, which makes the profound sorrow in the artist’s works bearable.
Who are these displaced beings, and what space do they inhabit? They seem to represent both everyman and woman--in their stripped human vulnerability—and no-one, in their hollow, racked emptiness. But it is their unmitigated willingness to bare all that draws us in. They are survivors.
In ancient Greek and Roman mythology, there are archetypal representations of every human emotion and type of person. For example, in Hera’s rage at the other women in Zeus’s life lies the elemental fury of jealousy. In her focus on destroying the other women, rather than looking at Zeus or her own role in the relationship, Hera sabotages her power with hatred and self righteousness. In fact, Lester sees this dynamic in contemporary relationships -- we blame factors outside ourselves for conflicts in order to avoid our own spiritual emptiness and decay. It is this very human weakness evident in the artist’s paintings which gives them their immediacy and appeal.