From 1 July to 14 September November 2015, the Donjon de Vez welcomes the Korean artist Lee Ufan for a permanent exhibition in the gardens.
Born in 1936 in a mountain village in South Korea, Lee Ufan was first initiated to traditional Chinese culture. His training, anchored in Far-Eastern tradition initially led him to literature and writing. After moving to Japan at the age of 20, he studied philosophy and engaged in political action for the reunification of the two Koreas. At the same time, he started his career as an artist, taking an interest in Jackson Pollock’s gestural abstraction, while at the same time studying traditional Japanese painting.
His activity as a critic and a theorist was noted as were his artistic experiments, when he became one of the members of the Mono-Ha artistic movement, a term which could be translated as “the School of Things”. According to Lee Ufan’s definition, as the founder and theorist of this group of Japanese artists, Mono Ha’s principle was to use a thing without adding anything to it. They took and assembled industrial materials, daily objects, natural objects, without modifying them. This method did not consist in using objects and space to embody an idea but came from the wish to let diverse elements live through the relationships they have between themselves. Mono-Ha appeared at the same time as the European and North-American trends grouped in Arte Povera, Supports-Surfaces or Land Art movements, all ways of rethinking the very basis of sculpture and painting. Mono-Ha is in many ways their equivalent in another geographical and cultural background and has many common features with these other artists in both free use of materials and formal reduction.
Lee Ufan’s sculptures most often confront two materials: steel plates and natural stones. Their generic name “Relatum”, expresses the notion that a work of art is not an autonomous and independent entity, but that it only exists in its relation to the outside world. For Lee Ufan, the action of the sculptor consists in criticizing the hyper-productivity of the modern world, in response to the evolution of art, which after thousands of year spent making hand-made objects, moved to industrial objects and ready-made. Lee Ufan has chosen to connect the made and the unmade. In his mind, “seeing, choosing, borrowing or moving are already a part of the creative act”. He links nature to human conscience with a simple iron sheet dialoging with a stone. He can also deploy mat steel sheets in a linear structure, standing or prone, their undulations responding to the space they occupy.
Lee is represented in major museum collections including the MoMA, the Guggenheim Museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou or the Tate Gallery.
He received the 13th Praemium Imperiale for painting in 2001 and in 2010, the Lee Ufan Museum was created in Japan, designed by Tadao Ando.