Performance Artist – Lee Wen

Lee Wen

Singaporean Artist- Performance Art, Multidisciplinary

Lee Wen (1957-2019) was a pioneer among a generation who defined and shaped performance art in Asia. He came of age at a time when Singapore was undergoing the turbulent and uncertain processes of nation-building—from a former British colony to a brief federation that formed Malaysia, and then rapid modernisation as a republic. Together with some of his peers, Lee reimagined the foundations of academic art, opening its vocabulary and techniques to a socially engaged practice. (Asian Art Archive)

Lee Wen relied on the strategic deployment of visual, kinesthetic symbols and signs in his works. Through various constructed personas, his works allowed visitors an insight into his roles as an artist. Lee had explored different strategies of time-based and performance art since 1989. Lee’s work had been strongly motivated by social investigations as well as inner psychological directions using art to interrogate stereotypical perceptions of culture and society.

Lee Wen’s essays, texts and investigations were an important reference, not only for Singaporean and Asian artists, but also for Performance art scholars and researchers worldwide.

Beyond his performance art, Lee was a multidisciplinary artist. To him, all his works irregardless of medium is about conveying a message to the audience by means of composing a picture, image or scene. Faced with the obstacle of battling with Parkinson’s disease, the artist’s body movements were increasingly limited, thus large paintings and drawings had become a feat to him. The gestures of marking and drawing lines across the blank spaces, the very act of painting and drawing was akin to a performance in itself. Despite these challenges, his two-dimensional works convey an overwhelming sense of optimism and perseverance. (iPreciation)

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