excerpted from The
Lawrence College ) Volume
7, Issue 3
October 18-24, 2002
hosted international student Ling Lee’s collection of oil paintings and
watercolors. In her artist’s statement, Lee refers to the assembly of these
pieces as her “pictorial journal”.
Within the trio of
series presented, a sequence of time is undeniably shown, from the “Mamak
Stall” series giving vivid depictions of her native Malaysia (mamak stalls are
distinctly Malaysian outdoor cafes), to the watercolor and ink paintings based
on bodhisattva sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, created as a
response to the tragedies of September 11th and a means to “express
the universal values of peace from the Buddhist philosophy”.
As Lee states in her
beautifully written summation of her paintings, her desire for accuracy in art
is prevented, naturally, through the passing of time and, through the “play of
light” on the images, which causes them to move consistently. Thus, Lee
states, “the pictures that I capture with my mind and quavering brush is a
motion sequence, whose process of creation can be discerned through the
I found this to be
especially evident in Lee’s oil paintings. Her sophisticated understanding of
color was crystal clear in her capturing of autumn on canvas. The fiery centers
and dreamy, twilight-tinged corners of “Autumn Trees at Sarah Lawrence
College” I and 2 were among the strongest of the exhibit, and the harried,
emotional use of brushstroke created the rushed, fleeting intensity of the
season itself. The bittersweet passing of time was perfectly rendered in the
painting’s frozen moment.
Equally as exciting were “Floating Bodhisattva #3” and “Smiling Bodhisattva #1”. In these pieces, Lee approaches abstraction, her peaceful subjects pulse with animation of crimson and blue, gold and mauve, applied again with a texture which takes a tranquil topic and gives it a powerful sense of mysticism. With this gorgeous exhibit, by turns elegant and vivacious, Lee gives us a glimpse into the dreamscapes of her journal – and lets us feel the pulse of her brushwork beyond simply illustrating a moment.
By Tori Cohen