Critics’ Picks

Jane Lee, Wing I, 2015, handmade cotton paper, 96 x 47 x 6".


Jane Lee

41 Robertson Quay
January 17–March 5

Jane Lee’s residency at Singapore Tyler Print Institute resulted in thirty-three works that represent the artist’s first departure from abstraction. Introducing paper to her remarkably tactile oeuvre, Lee focuses on sequences, cutting, coiling, folding, dying, and otherwise manipulating the material to create her narrative.

Each iteration of Set Me Free I–VII (all works 2015) has a tangle of paper birds emerging from a cylindrical nest spray-painted blue, green, gray, or pink. On a superficial level, these new works do not exude the same confidence and verve as Lee’s 2013 exhibition of paintings, “100 Faces,” featuring canvases with heavy gel-acrylic paint that is confection-like in color and texture. But adapting to the delicate physical properties of paper, the works on view here deliver their messages subversively. Their gentility belies a deeper yearning and themes of freedom and confinement symbolized by the recurring bird motif. It resonates in Singapore, a country celebrating half a century of independence this year.

Another group of seven richly textured pieces, Wings I–VII, are plain white or spray-painted with gradations of color. They are constructed using an intricate method of layering paper that Lee developed during her residency. Wing I, a single large white wing, is eerie in its intimation of impossible flight. Collectively, they raise important questions about the value of liberty in this utopian city-state.