TO WALK WHERE NO ONE SEES AN OTHER
8 December 2018 to 9 January 2019
Tin-aw Art Gallery
Makati City, Philippines
The artist paints on copper, a material which attracts her because of its malleability. Its surface requires more energy and labor, receiving and sealing images through immense attention and care. It also has a surface sheen that shows through her renderings. It allows her to handle mediums with varying densities, and to make her palette alternatively brilliant and subdued. Copper as ground also has an otherworldly quality whether through brilliance or form. It can be structured like a typical ground or in sheets that take on specific configurations. Its sheen can be modulated; to function as receptive surface to oil or a visual device to connote a vision and frame a narrative. In this exhibition, the artist coaxes her material to bend and meet spherically, like the roaming eye that takes in a panoramic view. We find her exploring the ‘installative’ as a means to relay a story or more precisely, to make a world.
The installation format that is multilevel and spherical would require viewers to enter a space that is site of art and where other sites of being can be imagined. The middle copper sheet can be visual appendage, an extension of the eye. The format began with experiments on copper scrolls, more like Chinese landscape paintings that challenge the visual order of the common world. These have taken a sculptural form for the current exhibition, exploring Lee’s articulation of space that can be simultaneously depicted and constructed. Yet the artist speaks to more than a relay of sceneries. Her panoramas are about a vision of a world that is accepting of difference, a place not divided by it. This installation format calibrates looking by allowing the body to move with the gaze. How does it feel to gaze up or look down, or be enmeshed within a relay of images? The experience can be exhilarating or disorienting, it can also be chaotic or comforting but what it certainly implies is that images make a complex field of meaning.
Lee Paje’s panoramic relays both ground and elevate us, making us aware of the finitude of our world and allowing us a vision of how she imagines it to be boundless and encompassing. Through her works, sceneries and places are founded on being in place.
(Excerpt from Vista of Dreams by Tessa Maria Guazon)
[Video credits to Monica Mendoza]
DIIN, SAN-O, SIN-O
17 November - 7 December 2017
Talisay City, Negros Occidental, Philippines
Diin, San-o, Sin-o is a culmination of her Artist Residency Program with Kapitana Gallery which is located in Talisay, Negros Occidental. Balay ni Tana Dicang, an ancestral house, partly guided the direction of her study and the image of which were featured on many of her paintings for the exhibition. She directed her research on Spanish-era and pre-war buildings and houses that are scattered around Negros Occidental. She notes how these structures which withstood decades of foreign occupation and two world wars have in time become entwined with the very identity of the locale in which they are situated. She has also observed that modernization is, to some extent, redefining the identity of these old structures as new establishments rise up around them.
Based from these realizations, she has come to the conclusion that “spaces make identities and identities make spaces”. Paje then carries over this conclusion in the conception of her artworks for the exhibition. Through her oil on Copper paintings, she attempts to “create spaces that allows redefinition and reorientation of identities”. Her paintings are not merely faithful renderings of landscapes and structures. She takes these landmarks and fuses them with vistas from another locality; some of which are images of modern architecture that is indicative of urban progress. Through this process she is able to create an imagined scene, altogether new but still feels familiar.
An aspect of the discourse not visible in the artworks but are inevitably tackled by the concept are the individual identities of the audience — each coming from diverse backgrounds and with different levels of affinity towards the subjects that will come into play when they interact with the pieces. There will be the locals, who arguably would have the strongest feeling of familiarity with the images. There may also be individuals who, having not seen these sites for a long time because of one reason or another, might be surprised positively or otherwise, to see the changes that they have undergone. There might even be those who will be exposed to the sceneries for the first time; their reactions a little harder to predict. Regardless of background, each individual’s reaction to the reimagining of these landmarks will always reveal a part of their identity. Through the the exhibition the artist hopes to compel the audience to ask themselves: Diin kita? (Where are we?), San-o ini? (When is this?), Sin-o kita? (Who are we?).
(Excerpt from Landmarks by Ioannis Sicuya)
07 - 29 OCTOBER 2016
Tin-aw Art Gallery
A continuation of her work in the 2013 group show Childhood Games People Play in Singapore, Lee Paje once again takes inspiration from children’s books in Unexpurgated. This time however, popular tales from the Disney collection serve as the nucleus albeit in alternate configurations.
Gender is conventionally perceived as a rigidly binary classification: all humans are divided in terms of anatomy into the disjunctive categories of either male or female, of which certain codes such as taste, clothing, and mannerisms are ascribed to one or the other, never neither nor both. The belief that to deviate from this is to be an anomaly remains prevalent and deeply entrenched in our society, as strongly enforced by various institutions and state apparatuses—families and schools included. Alarmingly, the conditioning process haphazardly dictating the ideology of what is supposedly “natural” is quite pronounced in the majority of books aimed at children.
Through paper sculptures and oil on copper paintings, the artist reworks these heteronormative narratives to personally fit her own experiences. Well-known characters inhabit an intricately assembled surreal and fantastical mirrors-and-flora mise-en-scène as participants in scenarios designed to represent the vast spectrum of gender, sexuality, and preference—facets of life such tales typically shy away from. And this is essentially what Paje seeks to accomplish with Unexpurgated; to shed light on the complexity of gender as well as contemporary lifestyles barely visible in popular media, in the hopes of transforming the audience through the fostering of respect and understanding for the nuances of identity.
ART TAIPEI: YOUNG ARTIST DISCOVERY
SOMEWHERE BEYOND RIGHT AND WRONG, THERE IS A GARDEN. I WILL MEET YOU THERE
31 OCTOBER - 03 NOVEMBER 2014
Taipei World Trade Center
Lee Paje chooses the intricacies of gender and sexuality for her solo exhibition at Art Taipei 2014. The title “Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden. I will meet you there.” was adapted from the movie Diana (2013), but goes beyond the film’s theme of scrutinising a forbidden private affair, and is rather a scrutiny of various gender stereotypes.
The selection of works is comprised of two variants, that of idealised male and female torso forms ambushed by moustached scissors and oil on Copper paintings of non-traditional gender scenes intertwined with religious artistic design. These artworks delve into the question of identity, as brought about by judgements of gender and sexuality, which is a constant exploration Paje’s works.
Visually engaging, Paje’s exhibition asks the viewer to scrutinise gender stereotypes and to go beyond what is arguably “right” and “wrong”. Rather than passing on judgement towards individuals who exist outside perceived “societal norms,” Paje seeks to emphasise these identities.
15 MARCH - 03 APRIL 2013
Rising young artist Lee Paje selects the complications of gender and sexuality for her first solo in Manila Contemporary. The title of the exhibition is a word play on the Tagalog for mustache (‘bigote’) and the English (‘bigoted’) which describes an intolerant or narrow minded individual. This provides a playful entry point into issues of discrimination faced by the LGBT community through a surreal installation made up of idealized male and female forms being attacked by mustachioed gold scissors.
Identity, through sexuality and gender readings, are a continuing line of inquiry for the artist who often integrates Filipino folklore and religious texts into her works to destabilise fixed assumptions on who we should and shouldn’t be. In BIGOTEd she has been inspired by the creation myths of the first man and woman from Philippine folklore ‘Malakas at Maganda’ whose very names ‘Strong’ and ‘Beautiful’ fuel the powerful, and limiting labels placed upon men and women in society today.
Gender and sexuality are fluid concepts determined by a constantly changing set of experiences, choices and ideologies. However, structures of power tend to hold on to rigid definitions, set within heterosexual and procreative terms for control and dominance. Paje’s men and women therefore function as assaulted gender identities, swarmed by bigoted scissors, whose moustached forms symbolise a critical and oppressive patriarchy intent on ‘cutting out’ individuals who exist outside perceived ‘ social norms’. Visually arresting, this is a judgment in process, of masculine and feminine bodies in flux, suffering at the hands of those who chose not to understand or accept their identities.
05 - 26 AUGUST 2011
Tin-aw Art Gallery
Makati City, Philippines