Lee, Wen, (1957-2019), artist

Biographical Information


1957 (was birth date of)
2019 Mar 03 (death date)


Lee Wen, (1957-2019), was Singapore based artist who shaped the development of performance art in Asia. His practice explored the notion of identity, ethnicity, and freedom and relationship between the individual to communities and the environment. He died on 3rd March 2019 at the age of 61. 

Lee Wen was born in 1957 and was educated at Kim Keat Primary School and Raffles Institution. He initially worked in banking before enrolling  in the LASALLE College of the Arts in 1988. In 1989 he joined The Artists Village (TAV). In 1990-1992, he studied at the City of London Polytechnic before retuning to Singapore to complete his MFA at LASALLE in 2006. 

Lee began a series of projects in which he developed alter egos he could use to address social constructed ideas.  Journey of a Yellow Man (1992-2001) evolved from a from a critique of Orientalism to a meditation on freedom, climate change, humility, and religious practices which were inspired by the location in which he performed. Other performances were based upon rewritings of histories and conventions. 

Lee's works were shown at TAV and internationally in galleries around the world. His works are held in the Singapore Art Museum, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Queensland Art Gallery, and Mori Art Museum, among others. He was also awarded Singapore’s Cultural Medallion (2005); Activist Award from Performance Studies international (2014); The Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art (2016). This archive collection is available for research at the Asia Art Archive. 

Lee was also active in artist-run initiatives such as Black Market International. He was also one of the founding members of the Future of Imagination festivals (2003) and Rooted In The Ephemeral Speak (R.I.T.E.S.) (2009). 




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