“To step into a room filled with Lindy Lee’s recent artworks – those works of metal or paper whose surfaces have been ruptured so many times by fire – is to step into a world of night in which every surface glints light from fresh rain, and stars radiate in their thousands overhead.”
— Michele Helmrich, Associate Director (Curatorial) UQ Art Museum
Curator, Lindy Lee: The Dark of Absolute Freedom
In 2014, The University of Queensland Art Collection was enriched by a generous gift of six works from Australian contemporary artist Lindy Lee through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. The gift featured the large, flung-bronze work The Life of Form: One Billion Worlds (2012), which was recently included in Lindy Lee’s major survey show at UQ Art Musuem. The Dark of Absolute Freedom also features Lee’s acclaimed early photocopy work, and the work that evolved following her embrace of Buddhism and her Chinese heritage.
About the work acquired
In 1995, an Asialink residency allowed Lindy Lee to spend four months in China at the Beijing Art Academy. Her original plan was to study calligraphy with a master calligrapher, but she quickly realised she could not submit herself to the traditions of this art form and the discipline of forming the ‘good’ brushstroke. Nonetheless, with a nod to the ‘flung-ink paintings’ of the Ch’an (Zen) Buddhists, a calligraphic mark did enter her work at this time in the form of an explosive ‘splat’. Using a mix of hot wax and pigment, she began to throw the mixture over both photocopied images and grid segments that did not contain an image. The greater the heat, the more liquid the throw became, and vice versa.
In some works, the figurative image was lost altogether; as Lee says, ‘because the splat stands in for existence’. Moreover, for a Buddhist, being ‘present’ – the idea that there is only this present moment – is of key importance.
A recent alliance with Urban Art Projects saw Lee produce large-scale flung-bronze works, including The Life of Form: One Billion Worlds (2012). These works comprise individual pieces that register the energy of the throw and are sand-blasted and polished to a high sheen to evoke ideas of energy and fire.
Once arranged in its multiple parts and installed on a wall, these works become a metaphor for the cosmos and greater fields of energy and spirit, while invoking Buddhist notions of continual change and the interconnection between all things.
After meditating and reaching a mindful state, splashes of molten bronze are flung or poured onto the foundry floor to create sculptures that echo her gestures and give materiality to her brief actions. Lee describes these gleaming works as a metaphor for the complexities of the universe: ‘Everything that is has a shadow. It is not possible to separate dark from light, form from formlessness, the material from the immaterial. The immaterial has no agency within the world except through matter.’1
Based on texts by Michele Helmrich, Associate Director (Curatorial) and Emily Poore and Vivienne Thompson (Curatorial Assistants).
1. Lindy Lee, “Lindy Lee – One Billion Worlds,” Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, http://www.roslynoxley9.com.au/news/releases/2012/11/15/226/