Lee Ufan

Relatum (formerly Iron Field), 1969/2019, sand and steel, Dia Art Foundation; Purchased with funds by the Samsung Foundation of Culture
Relatum (formerly Iron Field), 1969/2019, sand and steel

Lee Ufan defines emptiness as not only “what has not been filled by man” but also what he has not touched.” The philosophy that lies behind his work is profound. I took out his book from my bookshelf – Lee Ufan Untouched Space by Okyang Chae-Duporge and tried to write this dossier, but simply too many highlights, and I don’t really know where to start. The non-action was indeed an essential aspect of work; he defines the encounter as “the place and time of “awareness” in which you transcend modern man and touch the splendor of the world.”
I am yearning to experience the form of “awareness” and definitely seeking to “encounter.” However, I see his set forth to attain an unknown dimension without depending on anything is simply not possible. It sounds very spiritual and yet so genuine and authentic to me.

I have been passionate about Minimalism for a long time. Minimalism seeks to present things literally, insisting that “what you see is what you see,” Lee Ufan starts precisely the opposite idea: “what there to see is precisely what you do not see.” While Minimalism is deliberately simplified the world and rejected any metaphysical aspirations that might engender art transcending “objecthood”. Lee Ufan’s works are more evoke a metaphysical approach. For this semester, I am trying to use materials from nature. My recent art practice is mostly ephemeral, exploring time and fragility, the relationship between mind and matter. Including observing marking leaves positions in my backyard, watching elements contributing to the shift over time. Piercing through petals and rearrange them. The visual aspects of my work are always minimal, and respect the nature of the matter. Lee Ufan’s theory constantly comes up in my mind when I am critiquing my own practice.

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