Friday, May 29, 2015Friday, May 29, 2015

5 things about Singapore artist Lee Wen

Published on May 19, 2014 5:35 PM

1. Born in 1957, the youngest of five children - three boys, two girls - of a writer father and a housewife mother. His father, Lee Xue Min, was a respected figure in the local Chinese literary scene who died in 1961 due to high blood pressure-induced haemorrhage.

2. He worked as a logistics officer, a computer operator and bank officer before he quit his day job in 1987 to pursue art full-time, enrolling at the then Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts. He also became an early member of The Artists Village, a seminal artists’ colony in Lorong Gambas, Ulu Sembawang, founded in 1988 by prominent contemporary artist Tang Da Wu.                      

3. Lee is best known for his Yellow Man series, began in the early 1990s, when he pursued a diploma in art and design at the City of London Polytechnic. Works in the series incorporate elements of performance and feature him stripped to his briefs, covered in yellow paint. This seminal body of works, which addresses cultural stereotypes, cemented his status as a pioneer of Singapore’s performance art.

4. His art has been shown at more than 30 international arts festivals and biennales in countries such as France, Germany, Japan and China. His artistic venture overseas was prompted in part by the National Arts Council’s 10-year no-funding phase for performance art, which was instituted in 1994 following a performance by another artist Josef Ng, who snipped his pubic hair with his back to the audience.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!