Lee Wen

Voice of Site
Tokyo - Chicago - New York

Lee Wen - "Documentation"

10.12(tue) - 10.17(sun)11:00 - 19:00
Venue: gallery J2
1-7-5 Ueno Sakura Ki - Taito Ku 110-0002 TEL/FAX 03-3823-0292 Email: type gallery anf followed by @g-j2.com

"Performance" Performance project report
Lee Wen

There will be an artist's talk on "International Performance art network" and a special screening of performance video documentation from various
international art events on Oct.15 2004 Friday, 6.30pm to 8pm at Gallery J2.

more info:-


Journey of a yellow man No.11: multiculturalism

September 1999 text, mixed media, performance; the Substation


The 2nd Open Art Festival in Sichuan, China Aug.2001
Pengshan County - Leshan - Chengdu
8--17 Aug.2001

Journey of yellow man No.15 : Touching China

Pengshan Hotel + On the street at Pengshan county
13 Aug. 2001


Asia Pacific Triennale

Journey of a yellow man No.13: Fragmented bodies/shifting ground 1999
Performance/video installation
September 1999

Since 1992 Lee Wen has appeared as the Yellow Man in a series of installations and performances in which he covers his body with yellow paint. As a Chinese, the yellow paint exaggerates his ethnic identity. However rather than suggesting a straightforward embrace of Chinese-ness, Lee Wen's take on ethnicity is a sophisticated and playful exploration of how the complex issue of identity is read according to location. Throughout the Yellow Man series Lee Wen has made references to socio-political issues in which his ‘yellow’ colour takes on local meanings and interpretations. Lee Wen says: ‘We find familiarity and strangeness in every place we go. Our awareness is sharpened in new locations and experiences. Yet it remains difficult to keep a constant vigil on our perceptions so that we do not fall prey to false consciousness and prejudices, nor become victims of propaganda from the market and the media, and other distortions.’

Artist's statement:

Cultural production exists in dialectical relationship between society and the individual as also between the artist and the community. We all exists within a social system which is seemingly internally coherent but may not be easily translated outside. Our interpretations of the world helps us to take possible actions to create changes for a positive direction. However the situation changes as one moves from one location to another. We live in a complex transnational and global meetings, mixings and clashings of differing cultural perceptions at an increasing rate and pace never seen before.

Each of us exists within a certain axis of cultural and historical location. Are we able to see clearly where we came from, where we are now or where its leading us? One finds familiarity and strangeness in every place we go. Our awareness is sharpened in new locations and experiences. Yet it remains difficult to keep a constant vigilance on our perceptions so that we do not fall prey to false consciousness and prejudices nor become victims to propaganda of the market and power of the media and other distortions.

Journeys were taken in search of something other than where we came from or as inevitabilities in order to continue our existence and growth as our identities takes us. Place and time shifted as much as our perceptions and consciousness are affected by them. Once again, a systematic chaos, a dangerous trial, endless accumulation, mindless consumption, oppression, abuses, haunting, relentless...

The sun was rising over the river-side where we waited with last night's revellers by the anchored ferry. The sky was turning brighter as birds began to greet the morning with their songs, I rejected all manner of intoxications and watched the performance of lovers communicating their inner desires through pure and simple actions, faded meanings and re-solidified aspirations. I bid unemotional goodbyes to all beneath the shower of love and left, to experience unexpected rebirths again yet again. Closing the door, did I not leave those nightmares behind? Those mistaken glories, re-invented into memory, imagined as histories. How many times? How many times more?

- Lee Wen 1999


Lee Wen in Vietnam

Lee Wen graced the Ryllega Gallery in Hanoi, showing his catalogue of works which included a video demonstration that covered performances undertaken across the globe, from a rather frightening piece executed in a courtyard Mexico, involving old chairs, an axe and a chicken. Lee explains that as he culled the weaker chairs, “There is a saying, you have to kill the chickens to frighten the monkeys.”

His series of yellow man journeys involve words and pictures formed by pouring rice on the floor, and Lee Wen performance with the props.

Another demonstration showed a circular ping-pong table made for an art festival in Australia. The huge construction was used in a park, in the street and indoors, attracting people to join in the match.

One piece focused on the dual currency problems of Poland, Lee was a businessman  who changed his money. He also wore placards like wings and wandered through Singapore’s streets asking: What is art good for? Why do we need art?

Lee works primarily in the Singapore contemporary art scene, and often participates in international art events. A member of the Artist Village since 1989, Lee is an Associate Artist with the Substation. Since 2000, he has worked with Black Market International. Lee Wen's collection include  paintings, mixed media performances and installation art.

In Hanoi, Vietnam,  Lee Wen undertook workshops with students at the Hanoi University of Fine Arts, culminating in a show of 28 works by Vietnamese and international artists. The show was held at the Hanoi University of Fine Arts, 42 Yet Kieu, August 23 at 17h30.



Theertha Workshop

Theertha International Artists’ Workshop took place in Lunuganga, Sri Lanka in September 2001. It was organised in association with Khoj Workshop by a Working Group made up of a group of artists from Sri Lanka including Anoli Perera (the co-ordinator), Jagath Weerasinghe, G.R. Constantine and Chandraguptha Thenuwara assisted by Sharmani Pereira. Lunuganga is the residence of Geoffrey Bawa situated on a salt water lagoon and surrounded by landscaped gardens designed by Bawa.

8 Sri Lankan artists and 4 artists from other Asian countries participated.

Theertha was an experimental workshop and was designed to explore the area between performance and visual art. Local groups of dancers and musicians participated in a collaborative work by nine artists called ‘The Story of the Cinnamon Tree’. Lee Wen’s 'Yellow Man' performance generated much interest.

At the end of the workshop a forum was held at Lunuganga and two days later an exhibition and performance event at the Barefooot Gallery, Columbo.

Theertha was funded from local sources and by the Prince Claus Foundation.