Free Radicals (1958/79)
4 min, black and white 16 mm + sound
In Free Radicals, Lye scratched frame-by-frame onto black leader. Synchronised to drum music from the ‘Bagirmi Tribe of Africa’, Lye describes his imagery: ‘Vibrating dots and dashes which swirled, pulsed, squiggled and darted about the screen – particles of energy in space.’
Cloudland will be the first ever showing of Lye’s work in Singapore.
Len Lye, born in 1901, New Zealand-born filmmaker, painter, kinetic sculptor, writer and theorist Len Lye became a leading avant-garde artist in London and New York. Lye was involved with many art groups, from London's modernist Seven and Five Society in the 1920s, to the International Surrealist Movement in the 1930s, and the Kinetic Art Movement in the 1960s. Lye’s abstract films pioneered cameraless processes such as direct painting, printing and scratching onto the surface of the emulsion.
Len Lye is one of New Zealand's most widely known modernist artists. His Free Radicals, originally made in 1958 and re-worked in 1979 is described by leading avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage as “an almost unbelievably immense masterpiece”.
As well as the extensive collection of New Plymouth’s Len Lye Foundation, Lye’s sculptures are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum in New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Major repositories of Lye's film work include the New Zealand Film Archive, the British Film Institute and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.