Lindsey James "Lindslee" Lee
Your Personality is Your Worst Enemy
"The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself freely."
— C. G. Jung
The recurrence of the myth of Narcissus in literature and in the arts echoes a warning towards excesses. A man drawn to his own reflection on a body of water and who later resigns from the world, left alone with his own image. His eventual demise can be seen as unfortunate, but the real tragedy lies in the unrealized truth – that he was gazing at himself all along. It is a tragic symbolism of man becoming his own worst enemy, a reality that persist in today’s world, farcical as it may seem.
In Your Personality Is Your Worst Enemy, Lindslee presents us a catalogue of works providing a glimpse of his artistic career ranging from figurative and abstract paintings to sculptures and works in taxidermy. His works reveal his take on social situations, touching it with wit and humor without undermining its heft and complexity. He turns mundane day-to-day life and turns into a dialogue, negotiating with the audience’ viewpoint on each imagery. The reemergence of previous works and phases of artistic styles served as an artistic challenge that allowed exploration to breath new meaning and fresh perspective.
The More You Let Go the More You Get / 2017 / Oil, acrylic painting on canvas on flourescent color frame / 192.5 × 192.5 × 6 cm / 75.75 × 75.75 × 2.5 in
In The More You Let Go The More You Get, Lindslee returns to abstraction to recreate an old work. In it, he reimagines a state of mind and tries to capture every memory with his brushstrokes resulting in a palimpsest of ochre and umber tones. In his attempt to approximate an image, a new one spawned, resulting in reconciliation between the past and the present. Retrospective bears a semblance of introspection and realization. The faint printed background of a Roman sculpture is superimposed with squeezed colorful palette of paint as if all the colors where stripped out of the image and laid down like a trail of clues.
Mix matched with vibrant colors and taunting text, Standing Still and Validating Beauty forces us to read between the lines. Oscillating between mundane expressions and social connotations, the image-text taunts the viewer to append social scenarios in Philippine context―to see beyond the images. They parley a message of scrutiny on social norms, on how simple words define the contours of our society.
The depiction of Lady Justice holding a rooster in Lindlee’s Not Fair adds a hint of localized version on the iconic allegorical personification of moral justice. The affixed taxidermy is reminiscent of St. Peter’s rooster. Conjuring Catholic notion as the gatekeeper of heaven, St. Peter determines who can pass the gates of heaven. Charged with social relevance, the sculpture examines socio-political aspect of morality that persists and the culture it breeds for future generations.
The Myth renders a reimagined sculpture of Leda who was seduced and raped by Zeus. In its reincarnation, Lindslee provided a contemporary rendition in a relative naturalistic manner. In it, we find a modern depiction of a ‘perfect’ figure, with her slender but curvy features topped with well-endowed bosoms. The swan wrapped around her private parts, seemingly allured and mystified by her beauty. The Consumption on the other hand, posits a different scenario. The man’s bulging skin, plumped and in excess, looms all over, while he holds two birds at his mercy, waiting to be devoured. Both works ruminate towards body-politics, self-mage and the idea of over-indulgence. They provide us a narrative on the literal and metaphorical sense of exuberance and vices.
In I wish I Can Paint Like You and Not So Common Sense, the posture held by the sculptures is emblematic of a melancholic disposition. One is covered with colorful paint but resonates hollowness within, and the other is in full form but with the absence of color. At its core, their titles suggest every artist’s fear and anxiety towards their artistic ingenuity and ability to produce meaningful, ‘original’ works. The works also, triumph in anthropomorphizing the universal longing to create a mark in the world, to be able to mold a self, worthy of recognition.
The exaggeration of the painting frame, resulting into multiple monochromatic frames enclosing a tiny portrait of a woman creates an arresting image in Vain. This image oscillates against Lindslee’s Self Portrait, where his bust is submerged in an aquarium subsumed with aquatic green pastures. Through these portraitures, Lindslee confronts us with two extreme scenarios of gazing through the ‘self.’ One beholds us with flamboyant but shallow caricature, while the other allows introspection and osmosis of understanding from within. •
Extremities and contradiction. Lindslee channels his art-making in various media from the more traditional canvas to the more eccentric taxidermy chicken. He plays on the power of outrageousness and simplicity to define his art. Lindslee’s art aims to give the viewers a fresh perspective may it be from a historical or aesthetical framework with the premise of an intellectual challenge drawn in color and material. Your Personality is Your Worst Enemy delves on the idea of self-humoring and finding wit in the otherwise mundane day-today life.
A recipient of NPO S-AIR Sapporo–Artist in Residency Winter Program, Japan Foundation in Sapporo & Tokyo, Japan in 2014 and two-time finalist at the National Art Contest in Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in Manila, Lindsey James Lee has been active in participating in group exhibits since his graduation in University of Santo Tomas in 2000 and his stint at the Art Students League of New York in 2001. He has had several solo exhibits starting from the Public Library in New York back in 2002 and comes back this 2017 with a fresh set of comical works on display at Galleria Duemila on June 3 – July 29, 2017. •