Lee Ufan (b. 1936, Kyongsang-namdo, Korea) emerged as one of the founders and major proponents of the avant-garde Mono-ha ("School of Things") group in the late 1960s. Mono-ha was Japan’s first internationally recognized contemporary art movement, rejecting Western notions of representation and emphasizing materials and perception and interrelationships between space and matter. Lee creates his sculptural works using only two materials: steel and stone. In 1970, the artist explained that “[t]he highest level of expression is not to create something from nothing, but rather to nudge something that already exists so that the world shows up more vividly.” In 2014, Lee presented a major solo exhibition at the prestigious Chateau de Versailles in France. Lee joined the gallery in 2007.
New York—Pace is pleased to announce its second solo exhibition of Lee Ufan. It is the artist’s first exhibition in New York since his landmark 2011 survey at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and follows his 2014 solo presentation of twelve site-specific works created for the Château de Versailles. The exhibition will be on view from May 15 to June 27 at 534 West 25th Street. An opening reception for the artist will be held Thursday, May 14 from 6 to 8 p.m.
To accompany the exhibition, Pace will publish a catalogue featuring a new essay by Barbara Rose.
Since his foundational role in Japan’s Mono-ha (“School of Things”) movement in the 1960s, Lee has developed an oeuvre attuned to the interconnectedness of matter and consciousness. Referring to his artworks as “living structures,” he takes a philosophical approach to creating them, viewing his gestures and raw materials as entities that reveal conditions and states of the world as well as our relationship to it. The exhibition highlights the artist’s continued attention to how objects and gestures shape space and will feature new paintings, watercolors and sculpture.
Lee’s Relatum works—the first of which he produced in 1968—highlight interspatial relations through the pairing of steel plates with large boulders. Between the two objects, Lee views the steel plates as the distant, factory-produced cousin of the stones. He sees the works as cultivating a space not only between objects but between viewers and the larger spatial environment. In choosing the title Relatum—referring to a singular aspect of relationship—Lee both rebukes the term sculpture and forgoes the more hermetic associations of the term relationship, conjuring a more philosophical and infinite type of connection engendered through the correspondence between rock and steel. The contrast between the manufactured steel plate and the natural rock bring together a new harmony between technology and nature.
In his Dialogue paintings, Lee begins by loading a broad brush with a gradient of pigment—here blues, greys, and oranges—and applies the pigments to the canvas in one or two strokes. The simple compositions enact a dialogue between the paint and the unmarked space of the ground layer.
Lee Ufan (b. 1936, Haman-gun, Kyongsangnamdo, Korea) is a pioneering figure of Mono-ha (“School of Things”) in Japan and the Tansaekhwa school of Korean monochrome painting. He is the 2014 recipient of the Kanagawa Prefecture Cultural Prize and the 2001 Praemium Imperiale, awarded by the Japan Art Association. Lee’s work has been celebrated in numerous international solo and group exhibitions including the Gwangju Biennale (2000, 2006), São Paulo Biennial (1969, 1973) and Documenta (1977). His exhibition Resonance was part of the 2007 Venice Biennale.
In April, the Busan Metropolitan Art Museum opened a permanent installation of Lee’s work in its new building and on its grounds. Spanning approximately 15,000 square feet of gallery space on two levels, the Lee Ufan Gallery includes painting and sculpture from different decades of his career. It is the museum’s only gallery dedicated to a single artist.
Lee has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide at institutions including the Asia Society, Houston (2012); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2011); Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels (2008); Kunstmuseum Bonn (2001); Städtisches Museum im Städel, Frankfurt (1998); Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris (1997–98); The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul (1994); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (1991); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek (1978); and Düsseldorf Kunsthalle (1978).
In 2010, the Tadao Ando-designed Lee Ufan Museum opened in Naoshima, Japan. Lee’s work is included in the public collections of more than sixty institutions worldwide including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Kunsthaus Zurich; Kunstmuseum Bonn; Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Museum of Art, Osaka; National Museum of Modern Art, Seoul; Städtisches Museum im Städel, Frankfurt; and the Tate Gallery, London.
Lee lives and works in Kamakura, Japan, and Paris. This is his second exhibition at Pace since joining the gallery in 2007.
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2015. Pace Gallery. Paperback
72 pages: 29 color illustrations; 11 ¼ x 9 ¼ inches