We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


The silence of painters



Lindy Lee


1954 –

  • Details

    Media categories
    Mixed media painting , Painting , Print
    Materials used
    synthetic polymer paint, photocopy on paper
    92.5 x 101.5 x 30.0 cm frame overall :

    Each part, 41.9 x 29.5 cm, each panel

    Signature & date

    Signed and dated l.l. verso each panel, pen and black ink "Lindy Lee/ Feb 1987".

    Purchased 1987
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Lindy Lee/Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Lindy Lee

    Works in the collection


  • About

    In the 1980s and 90s Lindy Lee was closely associated with appropriation practices, most simply (if reductively) identified as the use of images from other artists' work. Lee's best-known works from this period used photocopied portraits and faces from the 'masterpieces' of Renaissance art, overlaid with veils of paint. Through repeated copying and the inevitable degrading of the 'original' reproduction, faces would emerge and submerge into inky blackness across multiple panels. This suggested both cultural distance from the iconic original works and our experience of them through ubiquitous reproductive technologies. Yet at the same time Lee's work retained something of the aura of the original by showing just how much beauty could be retained in this repeated, copied and reworked state. The careful aesthetic choices Lee made in selecting and combining colours and images also pointed to more traditional formal concerns which continued to underlie her work.

    In 'The silence of painters', a self-portrait by Rembrandt printed on a red ground is obscured with brushstrokes of black acrylic which drip and run down the images. Her brushstrokes are highly gestural, suggesting her presence and her hand in making the work. The near disappearance of the Renaissance image into the monochrome panels recalls Lee's interest in American mid 20th-century abstract painter Ad Reinhardt and the ambition of the modernist monochrome painters to erase representation. The grid is a key structuring device in Lee's work enabling the development of visual ideas dependent on repetition and subtle change across the multiple panels. Increasingly in the 1990s her use of multiple units enabled juxtapositions of different colours, of abstraction and representation, and of gestural and flat monochromatic panels.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 5 publications

Other works by Lindy Lee

See all 22 works