The Glass Facade
by Lee du Ploy
3 – 24 February, 2017
Opening: Friday February 3rd (6-9pm)
Curated by Sarah Greene, the Owner of Blue Lotus Gallery
Sponsored by Peroni Italy
Mental illness can be caused by genetic heritage or the wrong chemistry in the brain. But often it is thrown upon us as a reaction to deep trauma and pure tragedy. Bad things happen. We can't always avoid and protect ourselves from the hardship that life intends to dump on us. And we all react very differently.
This is what intrigues Lee du Ploy the most. He muses on it in his writing by describing various encounters with patients each reacting their own unique mentally troubled way to bestowed misfortune and deep distress. His writing is clear and non-judgemental. It’s almost scary how he makes the worst mental infliction seem normal, as if it could happen to ourselves tomorrow. As he says: 'Its never easy to hear harrowing tales of how life went wrong. I was always struck not by how different, but how much alike we are. Language and attitudes may change but invariably the problems of human psychology remain the same.”
Lee is quite special himself. At first encounter he seems quite crazy, very chaotic jumping from one topic to the other while playing magic tricks, pulling a HK$ 5 coin from behind my ear. I have no idea what
to make of him. I listen to a waterfall of stories and it makes me wonder which of his stories are true and which ones are false. Was he really born in Malawi? Did he really make a fortune and than gave it all away? Does he really have a stash of Picasso stored on his attic? And was he indeed a psychologist treating some the world most rich and famous? I was inclined to not believe any of it but than one day when I was in his little gallery listening to his waterfall of loosely knitted stories, a lady walked in and came to thank him for curing her. And outside another old man was for his free treatment. He has something with his knee, he said. And I did see a Miro etching and a miniature Henry Moore sculpture on his mantle piece. I scratched my head.
If all true, Lee has many faces himself indeed: Psychologist, healer, art dealer, writer, husband and lover. When I face Lee's work. I don't know what I'm looking at, is he the painter or the sitter? The doctor or the patient? The dealer or the artist? I don't know. But its right that ambiguity that keeps me coming back for more. His roughly painted portraits, some hauntingly beautiful and others awfully ugly are intriguing just like himself.
Lee himself doesn't care, what matters to him is that he can keep painting and writing with as his main muse the flawed troubled human being. 'I love painting more than anything else; its a way to see without looking and to feel without thinking.'
In his book he offers a way out of depression and sheer misery. 'I see all young men do, a vision of the future. Here, with a little help, persuasion and honest endeavor, all those afflicted by the terrible disease of unhappiness can find fulfillment. One most just learn to look in the right place'.
After numerous more conversations, things start to make sense, despite his chaotic ways, some of his sayings resonates a deep truth and I start to wonder as crazy as it all sounds, if all his stories might be true after all. Who knows and does it really matter? As he says himself, thoughts are perception. Its how we see the world, and what we expect. This collection of portraits and the people he treated within, taught me an invaluable lesson, that however different we make assume ourselves to be, we are remarkably alike.