The New Exhibition of Lindy Lee, and Art News of the Week 28 September – 4 October 2020

Artist Lindy Lee poses from inside her sculptural work Moonlight Deities. Photo: Don Arnold/WireImage
Artist Lindy Lee poses from inside her sculptural work Moonlight Deities. Photo: Don Arnold/WireImage

An article that appeared this week in The New York Times talks about how to get the most out of art, even when you are not sure if you will get it. One cent coins are the objects of choice for the new public artwork that encapsulates many of America’s current issues launched by the New York-based non-profit organization Creative Time. Lindy Lee reflects on decades of attempts to assume her identity at the opening of her new exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

How to Get the Most Out of Art (Even When You’re Not Sure You Get It)

Oct. 1, 2020 – Via The New York Times

A screen shot from the Google Cultural Institute. Photo: Google Arts and Culture

I found this article that appeared this week in The New York Times very interesting. It talks about how to get the most out of art, even when you are not sure if you will get it. The author, Katherine Schulten teaches to explore some useful strategies to appreciate art based on an article written in 2018 by Micaela Marini Higgs.

“You don’t need to have an art degree or intellectual credentials to make the most of a trip to an art museum. Seeing art, even if you don’t know anything about what you are seeing, can be good for your brain and help you develop better communication skills” writes Micaela Marini Higgs in the featured article.

To warm-up and as the first part of this exercise, Katherine advises you to find at least one conversation partner, together with this one you will try to remember the times you have been in an art museum. From the memory of these experiences, you will try to describe which works of art you can remember from those visits.

Then she will ask you to think about works of art that are in your daily environment, a monument, a mural or graffiti, a painting, a photograph, and how well you can describe them without looking at them. The idea is to explore works of art, paintings, sculptures, photographs that inspire positive emotions.

Or on the contrary, some visual artworks that really disgust you, or that provoke some kind of negative emotions. Try to remember a moment when you looked at a work of art, something in nature, an object in your house or in a store, or anything else, and think what you noticed? Why was it so interesting to you?

For the second part of this exercise, Katherine will ask you to choose a digital collection of artwork that interests you. You can choose a local museum that displays works online; visit the collections of well-known institutions such as the Louvre; or simply sites such as Google’s Art or Artsy. Find a piece that makes you want to slow down and take a closer look. Ask yourself how this makes me feel? Why did you choose this particular work? Why might your brain need a little time to think about it? What do you think was the first mark made on the canvas? Is the paint applied aggressively or are the lines too soft? What kind of emotional response do you think the artist was trying to inspire?

Think of a work you identified in the warm-up as something that repelled you. Do you think you can learn something about yourself from that reaction? At the beginning of this lesson, we talked about works of art that you remember seeing in the past and whether you liked them or not. Review one of them now. What do you see that is new? How do you see it differently? Why do you think that is? If the subject interests you, you can read the full article here.

Artist Jill Magid distributes 120,000 one-cent pieces as part of her art project “Tender”

1st October 2020 – Via The Art Newspaper

The artist Jill Magid describing her art project, “Tender” at a shop in Manhattan’s financial district. Photo: Adrienne Grunwald for The New York Times

One cent coins are the objects of choice for the new public artwork that encapsulates many of America’s current issues launched by the New York-based non-profit organization Creative Time. Conceptual artist Jill Magid is participating in this work by taking 120,000 pennies to create an original “monumental sculpture” (as the artist has called it) entitled Tender.

Jill says that “Pennies are small, promiscuous, national monuments. The coin’s smooth edge—the only surface bare of government propaganda—was ripe for intervention”. As part of the project, the 120,000 coins would be distributed by the artist in warehouses in New York City through the purchase of small objects such as mini hand sanitizers or candies.

The project has a reason to use these pennies since it is produced in the middle of a national coin shortage. The decision to release these 120,000 cents ($1,200) is also a nod to the $1,200 stimulus checks issued in March by the federal government in response to Covid-19.

Each of these coins will have printed on one side a phrase from an economic article about the state of the economy in the early months of the pandemic. The phrase is: “the body was already so fragile”. Jill says, “I added [this] ambiguous phrase which speaks to the physical and economic vulnerability of the moment. Tender pennies enter the local economy quietly, and travel like a rumor.”

Pennies will act like any other currency once they are spent. They will pass from hand to hand, just as the coronavirus spreads. Pennies have a half-life of 40 years once in circulation. This suggests that these coins will be a constant reminder of the impact of the virus even long after a vaccine is available.

Artist Lindy Lee: “Anybody who has to declare they belong, doesn’t belong”

Oct. 1, 2020 – Via The Guardian

Lindy Lee. Photo: Don Arnold/WireImage

Lindy Lee is an Australian painter and sculptor born in 1954. At the opening of her new exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the artist reflects on decades of attempts to assume her identity. Born in Brisbane, Lee wanted to be more than just Chinese. Although she is one of Australia’s most important contemporary artists, her artwork blends the cultures of her ancestral China with those of her native Australia. Trying to explore her Buddhist faith along the way.

Lee’s father believed that once her family left home they had to be “whiter than white”. It was an attitude that she internalized and that reached its peak when Australia’s bicentennial was celebrated in 1988. Lee was asked to speak about her art on a panel at a conference at the Sydney College of the Arts. “I do these paintings because I am declaring that I belong to the West.” she told the audience at the time. But now, reflecting on those moments Lee decided to make it clear that “Anybody who has to declare they belong, doesn’t belong.”

Beyond the words of her father, Lee internalized the painful prejudice against Asians that she found in society from an early age. She was the only Chinese girl in her elementary school, and one of two in high school. Her parents hoped that Lee’s college education would be just a precursor to marriage and sons. Her father even tried to get a Malaysian dentist as a prospective husband.

In the late 1970s, Lee studied at the Chelsea School of Art in London and after that, she graduated from the Sydney College of the Arts. She decided to deliberately hide from her parents that art was her field of study because she says “they would not have understood and I just kept lying.”

In her early works, Lee copied the paintings of Flemish master Jan van Eyck over and over again. She made wax paintings, and she went to China looking to connect with Chinese artists. But a curator and writer in Shanghai told her that such a connection was not possible because Lee had not experienced Mao’s cultural revolution. Lee things today that the curator was right.

Lee finally found her own “liberation” between Western and Asian identities. She says that “Her genetics, her ancestors, and her place of birth have given her philosophical and cultural affinities that make her curious about life and give her creative impulses.”

This week an exhibition of her work, ‘Moon in a Dew Drop’ opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Australia. Lee, who is now 66, sits on the floor of the museum’s members’ lounge during the installation of the exhibition. She remains for a long time with her legs bent in the style of Zen meditation she has practiced for 25 years. Lee presents an impression of calm far removed from the inner turbulence she describes having experienced in her youth. Lee says that she believes in psychiatrist Carl G. Jung’s theory that “repressed questions from consciousness will return as fate.”

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