Hamburger Bahnhof is displaying the primary complete retrospective of the Korean artist Lee Ufan in Germany. That is important as a result of the 87-year-old artist has held a formidable Asian place in minimalism for six a long time. In doing so, Lee enhances the understanding of minimal artwork that has beforehand been dominated at Hamburger Bahnhof by American greats reminiscent of Donald Judd, Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt.
With Lee Ufan’s solo present, the home is lastly performing mondially. The inclusion of Asian artwork actions that full the Western canon of up to date artwork is lengthy overdue. The appointment of the director duo Until Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil a 12 months and a half in the past is already bringing a breath of recent air into the dusty station halls.
60 objects from Lee’s life’s work are exhibited throughout each wings of the primary flooring, from his early works on the finish of the Nineteen Sixties to his most up-to-date works from this 12 months. His oeuvre is timeless and stylish. The work, sculptures and installations discover the stress between folks, nature and spirituality. The fabric solely serves to make the immaterial seen and tangible.
Lee was born in South Korea in 1936, when the nation was struggling beneath Japanese colonial rule. In 1956, he was assigned to ship drugs to an uncle in Yokohama, Japan. He took the chance to flee the restrictions after the Korean Struggle and determined to remain in Japan at brief discover. There he enrolled in East Asian and European philosophy. Solely then did he research the standard Japanese portray “Nihon-ga”.
The 12 months 1968 represents a turning level for Lee. It was the 12 months of world rise up: Could Revolution in France, Vietnam Struggle protests, pupil unrest in Japan. The decision for peace and freedom could possibly be heard all over the place. Lee and others based the Mono-ha Group, the “Faculty of Issues”.
Use present factor
The thought was to relativize as a lot as attainable the act of creative creation, which was on the heart of the Western understanding of artwork. No new issues needs to be created, however present issues from nature (stones, branches, earth) needs to be used and associated to industrial supplies reminiscent of glass or metal. A reproduced however iconic work from this era is on show within the first room.
The artist dropped a stone boulder from a brief distance onto a 2.5 by 2 meter glass plate. Across the stone, lengthy cracks run by way of the glass plate to the sting. And since the ground is seen by way of the glass, it appears as if the stone has additionally left harmful traces within the room. It’s thought-about the primary work in his “Relatum” collection.
Within the Nineteen Seventies, Lee was influenced by the Dangsaekhwa motion from Korea, which painted monochromatically. The collection “From Level” and “From Line” are from this era and are exhibited in a number of rooms. The escape into abstraction, says Lee, was a sort of political resistance. The pictures resisted any political instrumentalization for propaganda functions.
Encounter and resonance
Lee’s summary artwork differs basically from American minimal artwork, which was primarily involved with materiality and geometric design. For Lee, it’s about interplay with the area and, above all, the viewer.
Lee says in a video: “If I ought to summarize my exhibition in two phrases, then they’re encounter and resonance.” A boulder faces a darkish metal plate as if in a dialogue. The area between the 2 objects is charged, the stress is bodily palpable. Strongly influenced by Martin Heidegger’s philosophy, Lee desires to create “encounters” as a result of issues and area are constituted by structural connections and human sensitivities.
Dialogue with silence
It’s no coincidence that Lee titles his collection of works “Relatum”, “Dialogue”, “Correspondance” and “Response”. A dialogue doesn’t solely encompass sending a message, it additionally requires listening, ready, silence.
The middle of his footage typically stays empty, with strains, dots or colour gradient fields solely showing on the edges, i.e. solely minimal creative interventions. The viewer has to endure this vacancy for some time with a view to perceive it as a resonance area, as a chance. Sooner or later it begins to vibrate and seemingly unfold all through the room. How can we see the world?
Lee admires Rembrandt
The Rembrandt Room can be about seeing and being seen. Lee has lengthy admired the Dutch grasp. “So after I stand in entrance of Rembrandt’s self-portraits, the core of my soul trembles,” Lee is quoted as saying within the catalog. For the primary time he can now encounter his function mannequin artistically.
Rembrandt’s “Self-Portrait with Velvet Barrette” (1634), borrowed from the Berlin Image Gallery, enters into dialogue with Lee’s set up “Relatum – The Slender Sky Street”. The room is lined with white gravel, and a slender, four-meter-long, polished metal plate leads like a path to Rembrandt’s portray. Two pure stones crouch subsequent to it like guards.
The viewer is mirrored within the polished metal bridge and has to method the portray from the facet. With each step the reflection of the ceiling, the stones and the image on the bottom adjustments. Once we look down, we see what’s above and all of a sudden understand the environment comprehensively. However Rembrandt’s younger face desires to be seen by us at eye degree, he desires full consideration. Western exaltation of the ego meets Japanese abolition of dualities.
Lee was all the time a traveler between philosophies and continents. Immediately he lives in Paris for 4 months and in Japan for the remainder of the 12 months. He feels spiritually related to Germany. Though he’s famend worldwide – the Middle Pompidou in Metz just lately honored him with a big solo exhibition – the retrospective on the Hamburger Bahnhof is a dream come true for him.