Lindy Lee

The esteem in which Lindy Lee’s work is held is testament to its capacity, in an almost classical sense, to move the viewer. Lee is a first generation Chinese Australian, and from the 1990s, her practice of Zen Buddhism has influenced her paintings, prints and installations that employ reproductions, colour-fields and expressive wax ‘splats’. Appearing in 2004, her scroll-like banners invite a celebratory, heraldic quality to an oeuvre that privileges the experiential and existential. Lee is not a photographer—yet the capacity of photography to vivify complex narratives is a recurrent theme in her work. In 2001 Lee recognised in the existence of old family photographs a kind of punctum, the peculiar quality of certain images capable of deeply piercing our consciousness. The survival of these snapshots highlighted their importance through time as vehicles for memory, connection and resilience. A particular gaze can access an infinite complex of accumulated moments—the survival of her family in the context of the Chinese Revolution and immigration to Australia, stories of love, as well as those of separation, breach and impermanence. “Brother Wah” 2007 features a child that emanates prescience beyond his years. The artist’s mother “Lily-Amah” 2004 is depicted as a 16-year old beauty of restrained sensuality, about to speak. The surrounding red fields are associated not only with ideology, but vitality, lifeblood. Lee’s form of ‘Flung Ink Painting’ shocks the composition into raw expression. Lee recently met “The Pilgrim” 2007 in China (photographed by Robert Scott-Mitchell). In Lee’s work, the pilgrim’s complete surrender to “The Way” is manifest in the large callus grown on his forehead from daily prostrations. Lee’s images exquisitely articulate a vast narrative repository inviting contemplation into the mysterious and ineffable nature of existence.