Lindy Lee

Unhistorical fragments
Roslyn Oxley9, Sydney
24 May - 14 June, 1988

In her third exhibition with Roslyn Oxley Lindy Lee has chosen to show six large oil works and two Xerox series.

Like the works themselves, the artist moves slowly, dealing with shades of meaning. There are no radical departures in the show. Critical momentum is lost in any attempt to draw lines through the body of her work.

On the surface everything is much the same. Lee remains preoccupied with the possibilities of red, the reflective qualities of the black surface, the texture of scraped back wax, and the seduction of the veiled image

To say this, however, is not to imply that the show is lacking. It rather comes as a reminder that Lee's oeuvre invites contemplation rather than interrogation. The presence of the works, the aura that Lee has spoken about, is always partly an absence, part of a sense that the works are only fragments of a larger, lost whole.

Lee's body of work proposes a different framework for the image altogether. If "the original" is a category born of unilinear, secular time then Lee's work dissolves this frame of reference. Her "unhistorical" fragments indicate a different realm, the time of myth.

For similar reasons, the works in the show converge in the viewer's memory. It is only when you stand in front of a painting, observing, that the work delivers up its particularity.

Fragments of Delacroix, El Greco and Titian loiter behind the red and black washes. In this series, the figures are caught in erotic or tragic moments, lending a heightened sense of the sensual and emotional possibilities of the paintings' single colour - red.

At the same time any emotional content in the work is deferred, referred back to the canvas by the gathering layers of black. The viewer remains suspended at a distance, spying on voluptuous encounters.

In the Xerox series, the traditional row of half-hidden faces has disappeared altogether. Flat red monochromes bleed down the paper effacing the images and blocking any exchange of glances. The work highlights Lee's interest in the monochrome, a form in which visibility approaches a vanishing point. For the first time the artist has chosen to frame the series behind glass, a technique which simply reinforces the role of the monochrome. The glass doubles the seal of the paint, sending the viewer's reflection back to his or herself.

Despite its figurative component, it is ultimately the sensory experience of Minimalism which is most often evoked in Lee's work. Her logic is the incremental logic of Reinhardt, working at the brink of eclipse, drawing images back from the moment of dematerialisation, well after the game may have already been lost.