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This too is heroic



Lindy Lee


1954 -


'This too is heroic' appropriates a detail from a painting by the Spanish 16th century painter El Greco. Lee scrapes away the black wax surface of her image to reveal a glowing red figure beneath. Her subject literally arises from the 'matière of her painting. Lee's purpose is to regain the power of the image in the original in an environment that is bombarded by a plethora of banal reproductions. The imagery in Lee's work is in a continual state of emergence and disappearance, of inquiry and challenge, typical of the lack of certainty experienced by many of the artists who came to the fore in the 1980s. As an icon of Western art, the El Greco image represents the history that has formed the artist's vision despite her Chinese origins. Conflating her interest in the work of American abstract painter Ad Reinhardt with this European history, Lee rediscovers the history that was replaced by the original black square of Modernism.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1994.




Media category


Materials used

oil, wax on canvas


189.0 x 144.0 x 4.2 cm stretcher

Signature & date

Signed and dated u.l. verso, black marker "Lindy Lee 1988".


Purchased 1988


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Lindy Lee

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 publications


Anthony Bond and Victoria Lynn, AGNSW Collections, 'Contemporary Practice - Here, There, Everywhere ...', pg. 229-285, Sydney, 1994, 267 (colour illus.).

Michele Helmrich, Lindy Lee: the dark of absolute freedom, 'From darkness to light: pathos and reverie in the work of Lindy Lee', pg. 15-44, Brisbane, 2014, 23, 102 (colour illus.), 103, 140.

Wayne Tunnicliffe, Contemporary: Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection, 'Cultural memory, critical distance', pg.154-203, Sydney, 2006, 178 (colour illus.).