The bronze sculptures in this exhibition are a natural extension of the ‘flung ink practice’. However, instead of spilling ink or wax, the searing liquid of molten bronze is thrown on to the foundry floor. What results are Flames from the Dragon’s Pearl.
Exhibition Dates: 23 April – 16 May 2009
Almost all of my life I’ve been preoccupied with the nature of ‘self’ in the world. For me it has to do with being a divided self—Chinese and Australian—and the feeling of being neither this nor that but both. I have used images from my family photo albums in my work to prise open the experiences of loss and transition over the five generations it has taken us to travel from China to Australia. Along side the photographic elements, there has always been a more painterly aspect—wax splats and ink spills. These ‘accidental’ marks are based on the ancient Chinese practice of ‘flung ink’ painting. Ch’an (Zen) Buddhist monks would meditate for a period of time and then fling the ink from a container. The mark that results encapsulates the totality of the universe—the sum of all conditions, which underlie the creation of ‘this’ moment. By letting go of the ego ‘self’, the monk surrenders to ‘the self that arrays itself in the form of the entire world’ [Eihei Dogen, Moon in a Dewdrop].
The bronze sculptures in this exhibition are a natural extension of the ‘flung ink practice’. However, instead of spilling ink or wax, the searing liquid of molten bronze is thrown on to the foundry floor. What results are Flames from the Dragon’s Pearl. In China, dragons are creatures of immense mythical power. Unlike dragons in Western folklore (where they are often characterised as malevolent and destructive), the Chinese dragon represents the creative energy of the universe and are symbols of good fortune, benevolence and peace. They reside in deep expanses of water but also swim in the winds of the sky. Seen from the earth, they can look like slow moving clouds or lightning flashes. The dragon is the rainmaker but even more importantly, the dragon is the embodiment of cosmic and elemental forces at play—forces, which are beyond the realm of human intervention and yet completely material to human existence. A flaming pearl is often depicted with the dragon. The dragon’s pearl is symbolic of Qi, the progenitor of all energy and creation—it is the ‘Treasure of Infinite Potentiality’.
Fire is a perennial theme in Buddhist imagery—it is the fire of transformation and the fire of being. In these latest works I am using fire to invoke something direct and elemental about our existence. We are accustomed to thinking of ourselves as outside the laws of nature because to a certain degree we can control her laws to our advantage, but in reality we can never step outside. The laws are fabric to what we are.
—Lindy Lee, 2009
Lindy Lee has been represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery since 1986. She has exhibited extensively in Australia and internationally in important museum exhibitions such as the 1985 Australian Perspecta, the 1986 Sydney Biennale, Prospect ‘93 (Germany), Edge to Edge: Contemporary Australian Painting to Japan (1988), Transcultural Painting (1994) and, Photography is Dead, Long Live Photography, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (1996). In 2003 a major solo exhibition, Lindy Lee: Birth & Death, was presented at Artspace, Sydney. Lee is a founding member of Gallery 4A in Sydney’s Chinatown. She is a former board member of Artspace and the Australian Centre of Photography, former president of the Asian Australian Artists Association and former deputy chair of the Visual Arts and Craft Fund, Australia Council. Lindy Lee is currently a trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Her work is held in many important collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia.