12 March – 29 March 1986

Untitled, 1986; photocopy on Stonehenge paper; 27.4 x 121 cm

Nullus sermo in his potest certificare, totum enim dependet ab experientia

(Nothing is certain, all things depend on experiment).

Bacon, Opus Majus.

Lindy Lee uses the inter-textual logic of semiotics, as a way of elevating the practice of painting within a continuum of culture, identity and desire, in response to the limiting historical processes of reading works of art. The art of Lindy Lee addresses directly the particular ideological deficiences in mythologising the 'borrowed' image, beyond its codification in paint and canvas, and beyond the direct reference to style, strategy, form or the 'mise en scene' of the image within the new picture.

The body of paintings in this exhibition engage our viewing by the absence of a formal rhetoric within the imagery, there appears an imagistic self-effacement in some of the works, a camouflaging reticence in stating the subject of the painting in others. The images emerge from within the layers of the work, in such a way that they appear to deny their material possession of the painted canvas. Yet in their ethereal manner, the images affirm a resonance of potential signification, their existence within the painting confirmed by a process of revelation, a gradual emergence, which sits in a twilight-zone between presence and absence within the picture. This ambivalent position is a deliberate sign of an open-ended confrontation with making images laden with meaning. But there is no attempt to manipulate or misappropriate signs in the face of historical references, neither is there a collapse into reverential reiteration.

The fragmentation of history (a hall-mark of Post-Modern rhetoric) in Lindy Lee's work permits the use of codes within picture-making to become less secure than a simple alignment of images with a non-formalist concentration on the materiality of painting. This emphasis, this deliberation on the surface and colour of these paintings in a material way, provides an acute awareness of latent meaning contained within the larger framework of the traffic and exchange of images. It also provides a perception of historicism for the location of images within a conspicuous textuality of visual experimentation in which Lindy Lee explores a finely tuned and honed down semiotic structure.

The insistence of repetition and the fixation of the palette with black and vermillion, mark the boundaries of an infinitely long field of vision, an ever-extended series of configurations, deliberate, intense and concentrated in form and execution. Yet Lindy Lee's work does not confuse classical imagery with classical representation. Single images from Holbien, Correggio, Ad Reinhardt and Malevich are presented as an element within the making of a new picture, but they are not the new picture. They are devices to distance the artist from the confronting gaze of the viewer/voyeur, who can cajole the artist to give up the meaning of the work, just as the artist can seduce the viewer into piecing the clues of the work together in order to understand its meaning. The pressure from both sides can produce a resonant interference. In some of the works the image has escaped or disappeared completely from sight, and the material practice of abstract painting remains, only to imply all the more powerfully, the presence of a diffuse and obscured readibility. An erasure of signs, to ensure their actuality, and their potential to extend the range of meaning.

Gary Sangster. Sydney 1986.

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