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Lee Wen, performance art pioneer and Cultural Medallion recipient, dies aged 61

Lee Wen, performance art pioneer and Cultural Medallion recipient, dies aged 61

Singapore performance art pioneer Lee Wen died at the age of 61. (Photo: National Gallery Singapore)

One of Singapore’s most respected contemporary artists, Lee Wen, died yesterday (Mar 3) of a lung infection at the age of 61.

Lee, a pioneering performance artist and Cultural Medallion recipient, was best known for his Yellow Man series as well as nurturing many young artists as a member of seminal arts collective The Artists Village.

Lee, who also had Parkinson’s Disease, died at Alexandra Hospital. He is survived by his wife, Japanese artist Satoko Lee and son Masatoshi.

A dogged proponent of performance art, Lee had previously been a banker in the 1980s before turning to the arts at the age of 30.

Working with fellow artists Tang Da Wu, Amanda Heng, Vincent Leow and other members of The Artists Village, he quickly became known for his Yellow Man persona, in which he would cover himself in yellow paint as a commentary on identity politics, which appeared in various forms as installation, photography and paintings.

Lee would later help to spearhead the resurgence of performance art in Singapore after its de facto ban in the 1990s with the Future Of Imagination festival.

In 2012, he also founded the Independent Archive, a library and art space which collected archival material about art in Singapore and the region.

The wake will be held at Block 145 Potong Pasir Ave 2 until tomorrow, and the funeral will take place on Wednesday.

Source: CNA/mm