Submitted Review

Yona Lee

  • Fine Arts • New South Wales

  • 01 September—30 October 2020

  • Eloise Hastings • Published 17 September 2020

Upon entering the immaculate space of Fine Arts, Sydney one doesn’t expect to be aroused by domestic mops, suburban lampshades, pipes and a bus handle. Yet to encounter Yona Lee’s work that’s precisely what occurs. Six minimal pared back entanglements lure you in to invite engagement with the most common of things and the world they inhabit.

‘One doesn’t expect to be aroused by domestic mops’

Installed formally at eye level ‘Mop in Transit’ appears anthropomorphic with its long draping wig-head perched atop an industrial skeletal torso. Whereas its sister iteration hides inconspicuously right corner ceiling, appearing to anticipate the possibility of prey. Both only pausing temporarily though as always they are in a transitory state – a feeling familiar to us all right now perhaps.

This movement within a space and journey en route is a theme Lee returns to often. For those who follow her large labyrinthine site-specific and immersive forms around the globe, it’s easy to see these small-scaled discrete sculptures as an extension of the flow, a continuum. The pristine stainless-steel pipes are constant, yet always re-appearing slightly modified by the melding of new forms and obscure attachments. The sculptural gestures spread and birth seamlessly through walls, ceilings or floors to create intriguing architectural tension.

Whilst Lee’s artworks are like no other, the utilitarian choice of objects do share a subtle similarity to the recently departed darling Bill Culbert. A fellow NZ artist renowned for celebrating the qualities of the everyday to convey an ethical challenge to ensure we stay alert, participate and converse.

And as the world is restricted right now, scaffolded behind surreal barriers or even blatant rings of steel it makes sense to be conversing and observing, particularly as Lee’s charmingly accessible pieces propel her career in a wonderful trajectory.