Albion Gallery

8 Hester Road
GB-SW11 4AX London

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press release

Coming to the forefront of the world’s attention in 2002 by accomplishing the astonishing feat of being the first pregnant man in history, Taiwanese-American artist, Lee Mingwei, will once again conquer the seemingly impossible, only this time it will be no hoax. Ever intending to make a stir, Mingwei will be inspiring dialogue between creation and destruction in his next exhibition at Albion. Inspired by Picasso’s Guernica, Mingwei will, from dawn to dusk over the five days of the installation, fashion Gernika in Sand as a Tibetan sand-painting, even as gallery visitors continually destroy it with their feet. Above all this will hang an origami lantern, based on the eye image in the painting and created by the artist, calmly looking down on the symbolic violence below.

Guernica is one of the best-known images in art dealing with the theme of destruction. Its images are Picasso’s powerful and familiar response to the destruction of the Basque town of Gernika by troops loyal to Franco during the Spanish Civil War, and it is thus a highly appropriate work for Mingwei’s exploration of the theme of creation and destruction. With this installation at Albion, the viewer will not only be a voyeur but an active part of the process, forced either to participate in destroying the piece by walking over it in order to view it fully, or to merely stand beside it and see it at a distance in order to preserve its form. At the close of the week Mingwei will end the cycle of simultaneous creation and destruction by sweeping away the sand, an act as much a part of the artwork as it is a part of the meditation on the process.

For the past ten years Mingwei has worked as a conceptual artist, creating installations that depend on the exchange of intimate experiences between artist and viewer. This performance piece at Albion will introduce questions of originality, copying and reproduction, issues critically important in the history of Chinese painting.

Born in Taipei in 1964 to a family of political activists, Mingwei has a dual Buddhist-Catholic background. As a child he spent summers in the mountains at a Ch’an Buddhist monastery where he learned the simple power of concentrating on daily rituals. Mingwei then went to the United States, attended a Benedictine high school in California, then went on to study Textile Arts at the California College of Arts and complete an MFA in Sculpture at Yale University in 1997. Within a year he had his first solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, has since had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and The Los Angeles County Museum, and has participated in the Venice and Whitney Biennials.


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Lee Mingwei
Gernika in Sand