Unidentified Flying Objects 1-4
40 x 30 cm / 42 x 32 x 1 cm each
framed in maple wood
In a deliberate and meticulous study, contemporary artist Lee Wells delves into one of the 20th and 21st century's most enigmatic subjects: unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. This modern fascination has its roots in earlier centuries, where unexplained aerial phenomena have been documented in written accounts, and occasionally, in art and religious iconography. By the time of the landmark Roswell incident in 1947, these enigmatic sightings solidified their hold on the modern psyche, becoming a staple of both conspiracy theory and pop culture.
Wells' source material is both comprehensive and intriguing. He has embarked on extensive digital archaeology, sifting through a myriad of UFO research platforms, including niche websites dedicated to the rigorous study of these phenomena, and even venturing into the more obscure recesses of the dark web. Within this plethora of information, Wells undoubtedly encountered key figures in UFO lore, such as Bob Lazar. Lazar's sketch of the "Sports Model" UFO, which he claims to have worked on during his time at the secretive Area 51, has become one of the most iconic images within the UFO community.
A notable centerpiece in Wells' collection is an identification chart believed to have been an instructive tool for U.S. pilots. The chart’s intent? To assist these aviators in identifying the diverse array of aerial crafts they might encounter during their flights. It’s posited that this chart was not mere fiction or the product of imaginative conspiracy but was derived from documents made available through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) releases. If validated, such a document would be a revelatory piece of evidence, bridging the chasm between whispered rumors and official acknowledgment.
In the broader landscape of contemporary art, Wells stands alongside figures such as Tom Sachs, known for his reinterpretations of modern iconography; Trevor Paglen, whose work often delves into surveillance and the unseen aspects of global networks; and outsider artist Ionel Talpazan, celebrated for his intricate depictions of UFOs and extraterrestrial themes.
While Wells' illustrations undeniably echo the "traditional" visual lexicon associated with UFOs in popular culture, there's an undeniable modernity in his approach. His works, at their core, resonate with principles of contemporary minimalism. By stripping these craft of embellishment and extraneous detail, Wells allows the simplicity of form to take precedence. This reduction not only emphasizes the core structures of the objects but also unveils their sublime beauty, a characteristic often overshadowed by mainstream depictions. It is within this reductive clarity and inherent aesthetic allure that one might argue the true essence and meaning of these enigmatic objects emerges. Through minimalism and the pursuit of form's pure beauty, Wells beckons viewers to engage more profoundly, allowing them to discern nuances and draw personal interpretations from the stark, yet profoundly captivating representations.