ISBN : 978-988-18126-7-4
Publisher : Osage Gallery
Date Published : April 2011
Author : Eugene Tan, Tony Godfrey
Editor : Vivian Poon
Designer : Joseph Yiu (Osage Design)
Curator : Eugene Tan
Artist/s: : Jane Lee
This publication was published as the catalogue to the exhibition, Jane Lee held at Osage Singapore from 26 September to 08 November 2009.
This features the first major solo exhibition of Jane Lee’s work since being awarded the Singapore Art Prize for her work at the Singapore Art Show in 2007. From Lee’s investigations into processes of painting and materiality through to her recent large-scale installation presented at Singapore Biennale 2008, the exhibition offers audiences a rare opportunity to follow the development of her artistic practice from 2004 to the present day.
Lee’s work examines painting by pushing the limits of the materials and techniques used in painting. Through her use of unconventional materials and innovative techniques, her paintings highlight their processes to draw attention to the way the paintings have been made or constructed, and in so doing re-examine painting’s significance and relevance for contemporary art practice. Lee meticulously constructs and crafts the surfaces of her paintings—in some instances, by stacking thick swathes of paint or cross-weaving threads of paint onto the canvas—letting the fluidity of the material and the gestural movement of the artist complement each other. Through this, the process becomes an integral aspect of her work, resulting in the liberation of painting from the limitations which come with the fetishisation of the final or finished image. Instead of paint confined within the edges of the canvas, her ‘paintings’ are canvas-less paints that droop and wobble precariously, or formed by canvases literally stripped and thereby relieved of their physically confining natures.
The intense materiality of Lee’s work reflects her previous background in fashion design, in particular, her fascination with fabric and its characteristics that sit between two- and three-dimensional. Her rich applications of paint and the resulting surfaces that are highly tactile, organic and delicate push the materiality of painting into the realm of the sculptural. By making the painting’s processes and materials the very subject of the work, Lee’s paintings question painting’s ability to offer a valid and relevant perspective about the world, to represent the real world. Instead, by ‘representing’ the processes of their construction, her paintings draw attention to the ambiguity of representation, and allude to a new model of representation, one that takes as its starting point, the tools, materials, techniques and processes implicated in the representational strategy.
The in-between status of Lee’s paintings has also led her interest with the spatial relations in which her paintings are presented. Such engagement and interaction with space are evident in her recent, site-specific installations. In Status (2009), the centrepiece of the exhibition, the space in which the work is sited is transformed into a meditative and contemplative space by the work. The installation, though not immense, fills the entire space with its presence, a presence which made even more compelling by the falling, literally, of the painting off the wall, a reflection of the status of painting today.