Christopher Lees

Christopher Lees

To those familiar with Christopher Lees’s oeuvre...his landscapes (for the past ten years) have frequently slipped through the net of geography, seeking instead to capture the spirit of the Australian environment.

As Lees explains; “Although I have travelled to many places in Australia, the paintings don’t depict a specific place.” Lees translates his experiences of remote Australia into composite images, sourced from sketches and layered with the residue of memory. Consistently devoid of fauna and human inhabitants, the stillness of his landscapes borders on the mythical, each frame freezing a fragment of time. Lees balances this mythic terrain with the contingencies of locale. The artist’s careful control of the elements recalls the structure of traditional Japanese gardens, in which wilderness and the picturesque are consistently brought into alliance. The aura of contemplation that arises from such a partnership can be found throughout Lees's career.

Painterly detail richly illuminates skies with delicate layers of graduated color. Finger-painting adds immediacy to cliff faces and calligraphic brushwork delicately enhances tree branches. Lees admires Fred Williams' abstractions in nature, and this influence appears in his reductionist tree forms. Lees explains his intentions, “The Australian landscape is an enigma of nature’s imagination. I try to illustrate this concept in my paintings. In my canvasses no picturesque European gardens or manicured lawns are in evidence, but gnarly, craggy, primeval escarpments that plummet into the abyss. The landforms are not easily accessible, viewed only by floating on the deep black liquid with no floor, or birdlike, hovering over this strange land in a dreamlike trance. There are no sounds, no winds or signs of life, but fragments of familiar motifs such as boulders, trees and occasionally fence lines that suggest enigmatic past habitations. I try to represent the Australian bush with emotions that can’t be written down. I want the viewer to feel alone, at peace, and privileged to behold this surreal landscape”.

Whilst navigating his fishing adventures, Lee's builds up a memory bank of composites that he can later draw on - secret streams of iron-coloured water are bordered by iconic eucalypt and mountainsides littered with boulders, cliffs and crevasses. Lees' process is straightforward, beginning with a sketch which organizes the painting, creating a sense of balance and proportion that is transposed onto the canvas. The resultant landscapes are still, stark, and mysterious. Lees strives to attain perfection in the way each subject is rendered and harmony in composition. Devoid of people and fauna, they echo the experience of the painter in the studio with only his creative muse for company.

"I exaggerate space and the elements of landscape which makes my work theatrical, but colour is the key…I want to ensure that people understand my work is concerned with the Australia landscape".

Works such as "Drop Pool and Rise" (2000), "Solus for the Maker" (2001), "Terra Australia" (2003) and "Harmony Reign" 2004 have depicted hyper-real, iconic forms floating in an aquatic environment. At times, he has felt compelled to divert laterally, employing abstract and surrealist elements in an effort to evolve further towards the perfect picture.

That striving for fresh expression is evident in his artwork. Christopher has not been academically trained. He says that he has"... never been with a teacher so I am a lot freer. For me, painting is instinctual. I know if a painting is working - practice also helps guide instinct…I would like my work to live on and I am conscious that people are buying works for investment. I want the works to last 500 years, so I use great materials."

Having held numerous sell-out shows over twenty years, and since 1998 at Libby Edwards Galleries in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane since 2000, demand for his work is now driven by overseas and local collectors. Lees’s work is currently represented in numerous significant private and corporate collections in Australia, Asia, U.S.A, Europe and the U.K.


Born 1969, Victoria

2012 Recent Paintings, Libby Edwards Galleries, Melbourne,


2017 Trevor Victor Hervey gallery, Seaford Sydney

2011  Libby Edwards Galleries Sydney pop-up show, 21 October - 5 November

2011 "New Surrealist paintings" Libby Edwards Galleries Melbourne
2010 "Recent Landscapes", Libby Edwards Galleries Melbourne
2009 "Recent Landscapes", Libby Edwards Galleries Melbourne
2008 "Recent Landscapes", Libby Edwards Galleries Melbourne
2008 "Recent Landscapes", Libby Edwards Galleries Brisbane
2007 "Coldsnap", Libby Edwards Galleries Sydney
2007 Libby Edwards Galleries in Hong Kong
2006 Libby Edwards Galleries Sydney
2005 "Australian Landscapes", Libby Edwards Galleries Melbourne
2004 "Recent Landscapes", Libby Edwards Galleries Sydney
2002 Libby Edwards Galleries, Sydney
2001 Libby Edwards Galleries, Sydney
2001 Libby Edwards Galleries, South Yarra
2000 Libby Edwards Galleries, South Yarra
2000 Libby Edwards Galleries, South Yarra
1999 Libby Edwards Galleries, Portsea
1998 Libby Edwards Galleries, South Yarra

Corporate & private collections in Australia, Asia & the UK
Numerous private commissions


watch the artist creating his latest monumental work "Where the Wild Roses Grow" here: