Lee Wen, 1957–2019

Lee Wen, Strange Fruit, 2003, c-print, 36 × 54 cm. Courtesy the artist and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (exhibited in 'Sunshower: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980s to Now')


The Singaporean performance artist Lee Wen has died aged 61. Best known for his Yellow Man series, inspired by his time studying in London when he was often mistaken for an artist from Greater China, in which he would paint himself yellow as an exaggerated symbol of his identity and the complexity of ethnicity within Singaporean culture, Lee was regarded as a pioneer in South East Asian performance art. Lee first showed his work at The Artists Village in Singapore in 1990, and his most recent solo exhibitions were shown at Singapore Art Museum, Grey Projects (Singapore), Your Mother Gallery (Singapore), The Substation (Singapore), 3331 Gallery (Tokyo). Recent group exhibitions included SunShower at The National Art Center and Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, 2017), Secret Archipelago at Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2015) and Singapore Biennale (2013).

This month, Asia Art Archive (AAA) in Hong Kong will present Form Colour Action: Sketchbooks and Notebooks of Lee Wen (13 March – 29 June), which explores drawing as a site of performance. Incorporating materials from the archive of Lee Wen, held by AAA, the exhibition will present documentation of his performance works, and his sketchbooks and notebooks, which will be on display for the first time.

4 March 2019