The paintings of Lindy Lee have been a gradual yet steady process of illumination, both for the viewer and for the artist herself. Lee’s work has developed over the past fifteen years from large, dark, waxy canvases of Old Master paintings to her renowned grids of wooden panels, featuring clear, monochromatic colours, Renaissance faces and increasingly, calligraphic splashes of hot wax. Each colour has, for Lee, a significance that is highly personal, informed particularly by her studies in Zen Buddhism. This is what she has said about the colours she uses:
Black: underlying mystery: invisible, unseeing, unseen, and silent, motion of non-events, utmost causation, causeless, ceaseless, indeterminate, an awareness of hidden things, pervasive presence, darkness and excessive brightness, illumination, loss, death, forfeiture.
Red: blood-red vitality, passion, fire, life, fortuity, actuality, carnal, corporeal, matter, substance.
Blue: deep, vast and introspective, the life of the spirit. Translucent and silent, my utopia.
Purple: the direct mix of blue and red; of spirit and matter, dark, murky and rich, uncertain, neither choice not chance, grit, endurance, reluctance, hesitation, perseverance.
Orange: the black stone at the heart of the universe, pure transmission, gold, the luminosity in each and every thing when given proper attention.
Green: jade-like colour of life, the oceanic colour.
The Renaissance faces that Lee uses in her work places it in the context of art history. They also represent the fleeting moments in a person’s life that are forever lost, with the images left the only proof of that moment’s—and by extension, that person’s—existence. Through repetition, the faces appear and disappear from the darkness, echoing the movement through time of life and history.
Lindy Lee has shown extensively both in Australia and overseas, including the 1985 Australian Perspecta, the 1986 Sydney Biennale, Prospect ’93 (Germany), Transcultural Painting (toured throughout Asia) and Edge to Edge: Contemporary Australian Art to Japan. Her work is held in most of Australia’s major institutions, including the Australian National Gallery, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Art Gallery of South Australia as well as numerous corporate collections.