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Lee Mingwei's Gernika in Sand on view at the Queensland Art Gallery
QUEENSLAND.- Picasso’s Guernica (in Basque Gernika) depicts the massacre of Basque civilians by the Spanish military in the early twentieth century, and is considered one of the most powerfully political art works of that century. Such massacres, of course, are not limited to a single time and place.

The project developed by artist Lee Mingwei uses Guernica as a reference point as well as a point of departure. The artist and a group of assistants re-create Picasso’s famous work in sand over a ten-day period. Midway through its display on Monday 9 June the artist returns to alter the work, destroying it over a period of a day by sweeping the sand using a bamboo broom to create a new work that is characterised by its sweeping abstract and gestural forms.

Rather than focusing on the cruelty of the massacre Guernica depicts, Lee Mingwei points to impermanence as characteristic of existence and larger cycles of destruction and creation.

Born and raised in Taichung, near Taipei, Lee’s cosmopolitanism predates his first trip outside Taiwan. Indeed, it stems from Taiwan’s syncretic, cross-cultural Asian and Western influences culled over the course of centuries of European incursion, Chinese and Japanese annexation, and American protectionism. But Lee has also traveled extensively. Among other, later, journeys, he moved at the age of twelve with his family to the Dominican Republic, where he lived in a hybrid community of Taiwanese Dominicans in Santo Domingo. Bearing double citizenship he immigrated to the United States, where after studying biology at the University of Washington in Seattle and architecture and textiles at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, he moved to the East Coast, completing his graduate work at Yale University with a focus on “new genre” public art.

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Lee Mingwei's Gernika in Sand on view at the Queensland Art Gallery

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