Pace London presents its first solo exhibition of work by Korean-born artist Lee Ufan. The exhibition will be staged at 6 Burlington Gardens from 15 September to 24 October 2015 and follows his 2014 solo exhibition at the Château de Versailles.
Lee Ufan’s work, in theory and practice, demonstrates mastery at crossing boundaries and initiating poetic dialogues between cultures, nature, material and space. A founding member of Mono-ha (“Object School”) Lee Ufan’s work meditates on gesture and nature, giving rise to new perceptions.
Lee Ufan’s oeuvre is characterised by thoughtful iterations of gestures in slight variations, engaging in a contemplation of abstract forms and vivid restraint; manifesting in sculpture, paintings and works on paper. Based on this theoretical framework, Lee Ufan would develop seven major series throughout his career; two of which respectively titled From Point and From Line form the major focus of Pace London’s exhibition.
The From Point and From Line works stem from Lee Ufan’s belief that lines and points are the basic units of the cosmos. In From Point, the artist applied compact daubs of paint from left to right, exhausting the supply of color on the brush before reloading it and beginning anew. He repeated the gesture, often in horizontal rows from left to right, until the whole canvas was covered by subtle rows of gradually fading dots. In some works, however, he arranged the dots in staggered rows or swirls that emanate from the center and progress outward. His dynamic brushstrokes produce a composition of rhythmic tonal value functioning as records of action and presence, illuminating the passage of time. While working on From Point, Lee Ufan developed his From Line series, which relies on the similar repetition of gesture, in this case creating cascading strokes of paint that accentuate the vertical dimension of the painting.
Gradually abandoning the systematic approach of his From Point and From Line works, in the early 1980’s Lee Ufan began to address the picture plane with unrestrictive and gestural brushstrokes, albeit with underlying consideration towards structure, series which he titled From Winds. Two very early examples will be on view in the exhibition that exemplify this pivotal point, with later paintings from the With Winds illustrating Lee’s dynamic expressionism, emblematic of a deeply rooted understanding of both aesthetics and philosophy of both the East and Western traditions.
Lee’s working process is attuned to the physical and visual properties of his medium. Limiting his palette to a single hue, the artist combined ground mineral pigment with animal-skin glue, resulting in a powdery crystalline mixture. By mixing his own pigment and using brushes with artificial hair conventionally used for ink painting, Lee Ufan found that he could increase the level of friction between hair and paint particles, thus slowing the process of application and absorption. Through this process, Lee’s compositions enact a liminal space, “Something endlessly appearing as it endlessly disappears. Something receding endlessly as it endlessly approaches.”ii From Point and From Line aroused critical debate about Lee’s abandonment of not-making in favour of making; the artist “re-arranges” elements thus creating an artwork. This is an issue that rose out of criticism against the modern notion of productivism making a case for abstraction.
Lee Ufan: From Point, From Line, From Wind – Pace Gallery – 15 September to 24 October 2015