Lot 1115
  • 1115

JANE LEE | Déjà vu

620,000 - 850,000 HKD
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  • Jane Lee
  • Déjà vu
  • Acrylic, mixed media and epoxy on canvas
  • 105 by 105 by 8 cm105 by 600 by 8 cm (in multiple parts)
  • Executed in 2013


Singapore, Louis Vuitton Island Maison, Marina Bay Sands, Landscape Memories, April - September 2013


This work is in good overall condition as viewed. There is evidence of light wear along the edges of some of the pieces and the work could benefit from a light professional cleaning. All other inconsistencies are due the artist's working method.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Singaporean artist Jane Lee is an award-winning, contemporary artist best known for her experimental forays into painting. Her visually stunning, tactile works often challenge the physical limitations of a canvas, rendering her pieces sculptural and installation-like in nature. Looking to turn the traditional medium on its head, Lee’s work poses questions that challenge the very notion of what constitutes a painting by exploring unconventional materials and innovative techniques. As the contemporary art scene in Southeast Asia is a space largely governed by men, Lee, much like her work, has redefined artistic expectations and pushed the boundaries within these gender paradigms, garnering her status as a highly respected artist both locally and across international markets.

The work Déjà Vu exemplifies Lee’s ethos of being unrestricted by conventional artistic parameters. Déjà Vu hangs on the wall like a traditional painting, but toys with the notion of space by extending itself outward with a collection of linked paintings (or painting elements) that provide the piece with an extended presence. By engaging the surrounding architectural space and occupying the environment in this manner, Lee creates significant interplay between the wall and the structure of the painting.

Lee’s interest in animating a space is further exemplified by ‘painterly excavation’, a technique whereby holes are purposely created within the piece, often right through the heart of the work. The punctures in the piece are just as, if not more, significant than the presence of painting in these spaces. The negative space that is created acts almost as ‘silent paintings’ that forge both a sense of absence and presence simultaneously, as though oscillating between the two.

Lee’s choices on these deconstructions are highly considered, almost like an archaeologist’s inquisitive study. The artist’s dedication to creating the crater-like voids results in a telescoping effect that often reveals the hidden, subterranean layers of the work. These cutouts provide an intimate window into her thought-processes, revealing themselves through the layers and linings of explosive colour embedded within the piece, which would otherwise be kept from the viewer. It is the revelation of these layers that suggest the artist is on a continuous, explorative journey when it comes to her process-driven works.

Walls are deeply important to Lee, as she believes that the wall in which a piece is mounted on is in constant interaction with it and the connection between the two renders a specific form of alchemy. Similar to the earlier works in Lee’s monumental oeuvre, the wide span and hollowed-out segments within Déjà Vu work in tandem to evoke a sense of depth and presence, urging its viewer to want to take a closer look at the artist’s technique. Walls are not merely a backdrop to Lee’s lusciously sculptural pieces, but rather, are an activating space that carries with it the notion of possibility and drives curiosity within its onlooker. To Lee, the structural engagement between wall and painting is an important part of the work.

Lee’s work poses as a compelling argument into a new way of interacting with paint. The artist often questions the essence of painting and verbalizes how she finds joy in the creation of structure, interaction of color, and tactile materiality by way of paint. The organic, gestural movements of the everyday; folding, twisting, cutting and bending are what motivates Lee and can be observed by the way in which she shapes, molds and manipulates paint across a surface as a sensuous art form in and of itself. Tight whirls of color bound together by the texture of the impasto elevate her work from its two-dimensional plane into a three-dimensional reality. Lee’s approach to paint is also a testament to her process, whereby she allows natural movements to lead her in her process and opens herself up to spontaneous, chance marks that may occur along the way to dictate the outcome of her painting.

By exploring in totality both the environment and context of her work in a way that is unrestricted by the confines of a canvas, Lee has forged an exciting new voice for herself as a Southeast Asian artist, inviting us to re-examine the institutional constructs of contemporary art practice. By decoding and deconstructing her work, Lee continues to surprise and delight audiences the world over about the domain of painting and our relationships with the piece.