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ARTIST LEE MINGWEI CREATES PICASSO IN SAND FOR THE BIENNALE OF SYDNEY | DAILY TELEGRAPH

March 10, 2016

By Elizabeth Fortescue, 9 Mar 2016

A keystone artwork in the Biennale of Sydney will be literally swept up and disposed of on the last day of the three-month contemporary art event.

But the act of obliteration is essential to Guernica In Sand, says the artist Lee Mingwei. It represents the cycle of creation and destruction that affects everything in life.

Guernica In Sand is a reproduction of Pablo Picasso’s 1937 mural-sized painting, Guernica. Picasso made the picture as a protest against the bombing of defenceless civilians in the Basque township of Guernica in the Spanish Civil War. People and animals in his painting are distorted in pain and anguish.

Lee and eight volunteers are painstakingly recreating the famous painting on the concrete floor of Carriageworks, using locally-sourced black, white and yellow sand. Credit cards are coming in handy as smoothers, and sand is being dribbled out of little teapots to add the finer details.

The precision of Lee’s copy of Picasso’s image is thanks to his use of gridlines over an image of the original, and 88 custom metal frames into which sand can be poured to create defined sections of colour.

Guernica in Sand has a Buddhist parallel in the sand mandalas which exist only briefly before being ceremonially poured into a river or body of water.

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