Bold new look at the lady

Bold new look at the lady
The Woman Who Didn’t by Elaine de Kooning.

SINGAPORE - Singaporean painter Jane Lee is showing alongside such contemporary art luminaries as American photographer Annie Leibovitz and Iranian artist Shirin Neshat in To Be A Lady, a new show which opens at Sundaram Tagore Gallery tomorrow.

The show, which runs till Jan 5, celebrates international women artists through the works of 40 important women artists. It is one of many exhibitions opening at the Gillman Barracks arts cluster tomorrow in an action-packed week for visual arts which will culminate in the opening of the Singapore Biennale on Friday.

Curated by New York-based independent curator Jason Andrew, To Be A Lady brings together works by historic, mid-career and emerging American artists, as well as those by prominent international women artists from China, Egypt, Iceland, Singapore, South Africa and the UK.

The idea, curator Andrew says, is to offer a "global representation" of works by women. The 47 art works are interdisciplinary and include seminal pieces by each artist. They are priced from US$5,000 (S$6,200) to US$320,000.

Lee, 49, tells Life! it is "an honour" to be included in an exhibition of this scale. The painter, who will be presenting a solo at the gallery in January, took more than a month to create a new painting titled Juju, a stunning piece in aquamarine and purple tints.

The artist, who made a splash at the 2008 Singapore Biennale with her massive canvas covered with squiggles of paint, continues to bend the rules of painting with this new work.

She breaks its two-dimensional form with Juju, which she calls "significant extension" of her two recent series of works titled Fetish and Fabric.

There are rich and layered applications of paint, but here the squiggles of paint are replaced by carefully handpainted three-dimensional forms which reflect her fascination with fabrics, weaves and drapes, and hint at her fashion design training.

Lee says her idea with this piece was to "stretch her artistic practice and move in a new direction with painting". This direction will be even more apparent in her upcoming solo which experiments with ways of painting.

On her inclusion in the exhibition, gallerist Sundaram Tagore, who also represents the artist in America, says: "Jane is an extremely important artist, especially in the context of South-east Asia's contribution to contemporary art. For this exhibition, which focuses on female artists, we wanted artists who are both thought-provoking and innovative. Jane was a perfect fit."

Other striking artworks on show include Egyptian artist Ghada Amer known for her layered artworks as well as Expressionist painter Elaine de Kooning.

Mr Tagore says that for much of the last hundred years, women have been at the forefront of social and political reform worldwide. Whether Western suffragettes or activists in the Arab Spring, women have played and continue to play pivotal roles in bringing about revolutionary change.

"Their art and activism push beyond ideological lines, re-shaping and re-defining the world we live in. Historically, the term 'lady' was a polite title bestowed on women of high social class or status.

"This show offers a bold new look at what it means to be a lady, presenting works that rub up against conventions and challenge the notions of what it means to be 'lady-like', emphasising the bold rather than the conformist. The word lady, here, is a provocation."

The exhibition is organised by the gallery in collaboration with the New York-based non-profit arts organisation Norte Maar.

A 2012 version of this exhibition was funded by and presented in New York at the 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery.

Mr Tagore says women artists have been neglected for far too long and only recently - as late as the 1980s - did they start getting the measure of respect they deserve.

He hopes this exhibition "will make people think. I hope it will engage them and challenge pre-existing ideas about art and artists. It is not often that one gets to see the work of 40 women artists in one place."

View it


When: Tomorrow to Jan 5, 11am to 7pm (Tue to Sat), 11am to 6pm (Sun)

Where: Sundaram Tagore Gallery, 01-05 Gillman Barracks, 5 Lock Road

Admission: Free

Info: Call 6694-3378 or go to

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