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WORKS 1959-1980

27 April – 22 June 2005
Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL

Curated by David Alan Mellor

In 1959, aged 18, Liliane Lijn arrived in Paris from New York to study archaeology. Almost immediately, this beautiful young woman became a colleague of senior artists such as Lucio Fontana and Takis, as well as the avant-garde writers William Burroughs, Gregory Corso and Sinclair Bailes. She began to make extraordinary drawings and paintings of hallucinogenic landscapes and then developed her Poem Machines which engaged the interest of both Burroughs and Corso, as words were dissolved into movement.

She returned to New York in the early 1960s but returned again and again to Europe, staying in Greece with Takis and living in London. She was part of the developing milieu of politicised artists in the city and was photographed by Bob Whittaker who also photographed the artists managed by his friend Brian Epstein. However, her practice also recalls the experience of life in London in this period, using the myriad of small artisan workshops that existed then to help make her extraordinary work.

Lijn gave alternative meanings to the sculpture of the period: her playful and ecstatic Koans, conical sculptures - some more than eight metres high – enriched by neon, text and movement, represent one of the high points of an ‘alternative sixties art’ which looked to the imagination of the ‘space-race’. In the late 1960s series Liquid Reflections (1966-68), kinetic sculpture is transformed into astronomical gyrations, while the great, electrified, copper-wound towers of the Light Columns series, that extend into the 1970s with Waveguide (1977) are both archaic and sublimely utopian in their use of technology.

A pioneer of feminist art, through the 1970s Lijn utilised and subverted military-industrial equipment - gun-sights, prisms for tanks - for her luminescent light works such as the Four Figures of Light (1977). In videoed performance pieces, such as The Power Game (1974), Lijn brought participants into a staged gambling setting, which uncovered dynamics of aggression and acquisition. Constructed as a fundraising event for the people of Chile, it was raided by British police concerned to protect the licensing laws. Towards the end of the 1970s, she began to make goddess figures such as Feathered Lady (1979) and He She (1979) which mark the shift in her practice that characterises the work of succeeding decades.

Liliane Lijn’s work has featured in major exhibitions such as Force Fields at the Hayward Gallery and This Was Tomorrow at Tate Britain, she has never had a solo retrospective exhibition. Curated by Professor David Alan Mellor, this exhibition of work from the first twenty years of her career, is the first to place her work within a wider context of European art, philosophy and politics.

Mead Gallery Opening Times
Monday - Saturday: 12 noon - 9pm, ENTRY FREE

Book details
Liliane Lijn by David Alan Mellor, Published by Mead Gallery at £15

Supporting Events

Exhibition Launch with Tim Llewellyn, Director of The Henry Moore Foundation
Wed 27 Apr 6pm – 8pm, Free

Artist’s Talk with Liliane Lijn
Tue 10 May 7pm
£5.50 (£4.50)

Exhibition Tour with Sarah Shalgosky, Curator of the Mead Gallery
Mon 16 May 7pm

Perspectives Talk with George Rowlands
Wed 11 May 1pm
George Rowlands, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Physics at The University of Warwick and member of the Theoretical Physics Research Group discusses the relationship of science to Lijn’s work.

Perspectives Talk with Jonathan Vickery
Wed 18 May 1pm
Jonathan Vickery of the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies at The University of Warwick discusses cultural developments in the 60s.


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