Lee Ufan (Korean, b.1936) is a philosopher and Minimalist sculptor and painter, trained and educated in Japan. Having studied modern Western philosophy in the 1950s at Nihon University, Lee became a prominent member of the avant-garde Mono-ha group, beginning in the late 1960s. The Mono-ha artists aimed to deviate from typical Western artistic practices of media manipulation, and instead juxtaposed objects and materials in such a way as to draw attention to the relationship between things and surroundings. Lee’s paintings are frequently characterized by simple, abstract brushstrokes in dark blue and gray tones, applied to white canvases or surfaces. His sculptures, such as his prolific Relatum series, often portray a similarly antithetical relationship by placing round or flat natural stones alongside rectangular plates of iron and steel. In keeping with his background in philosophy, Lee strives to engage viewers in contemplating the interaction between space, objects, and themselves. From 1973 until 2007, Lee served as a professor at Tama Art University in Tokyo. His work is part of the permanent collection at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, and has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including shows at New York’s Pace Wildenstein and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Lee Ufan currently lives and works in Kamakura, Japan, and in Paris, France.

Timeline

1936
Born in Kyongnam, South Korea
1956
Moved to Yokohama where he studied philosophy
1961
Graduated from Nihon University, Department of Philosophy, Tokyo, Japan
Awarded prize for critical writing, Tokyo, Japan
1973
Since this time, he has been a professor at the Tama Art University, Tokyo
1997
Appointed guest professor at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris
2000
UNESCO Prize (in Shanghai Biennale), Paris-Shanghai, China
2001
13th Praemium Imperiale (Painting), Tokyo, Japan
11th Hoam prize (Art), Seoul
2005
Artists Summit, Kyoto, Japan
Lives in Tokyo and Paris

Exhibitions

2013
Dissonance, Salle du Capitole, Arles, France
2011–2012
Die Kunst der Entschleunigung, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany
2011
Marking Infinity, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
2010
Galeria Elvira Gonzalez, Madrid, Spain (solo)
2009
Infinitum, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, Italy
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France (solo)
Kukje Gallery, Seoul, Korea (solo)
La Pintura y sus Alrededores, Galerie naechst St. Stephan, Vienna, Austria
Qui a peur des artistes? François Pinault Collection, Palais des Arts, Dinard, France
2008
1st Poznan Biennale, Poland
SOTTO VOCE, Yvon Lambert, New York, NY
The Thin Shadow Line, Fondazione Mudima, Milan, Italy
Sensitive Systems, Hakgojae Gallery, Seoul, Korea
Pace Wildenstein, New York, NY (solo)
Dahlem Museum, Berlin, Germany (solo)
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium (solo)
2007
Micro- Narrative, Belgrad, Serbia
L’Art de Monet et Sa Postérité, The National Art Center, Tokyo, Japan
Elastic Taboos, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria
Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, Vienna, Austria (solo)
52nd Venice Biennale (solo)
2006
Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Berlin (solo)
IBU Gallery, Paris, France (solo)
Galerie Micheline Szwajcer, Antwerp, Belgium (solo)
Kwangjoo Biennale, Korea
Shelter, National Galeriel, Berlin, Germany
La force de l’art, Grand Palais, Paris, France
2005
Reconsidering Mono-ha, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
Musée d’Art Moderne, Saint-Etienne, France (solo)
Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan (solo)
2004
Musée St.Louis Fernet Branca, Alsace, France (solo)
L’art au future antérieur 1975-2004, Musée de Grenoble, Grenoble, France
2003
Happiness, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
Samsung Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea (solo)
Correspondance, Lisson Gallery, London, UK
Yokohama Museum of Art (solo)
2002
Les années 70 l’art en cause, CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux
The Pacific Triennale, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
Scai the Bathhouse, Shiraishi Contemporary Art Inc; Tokyo, Japan (solo)
2001
Kunstmusum Bonn, Bonn (solo)
Le Tribú dell Arte, Galleria d’Arte Moderna e contemporanea, Rome, Italy
Century City, Tate Modern, London, UK
Mono-ha, Museum of Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK
2000
Shanghai Biennale, UNESCO prize, Shanghai, China
1999
Liliane & Michel Durand-Dessert, Paris, France (solo)
1998
Sigong Gallery, Taegoo, Korea (solo)
Mitaka City Gallery of Art, Nigata City Art Museum, Japan (solo)
Städtisches Museum im Städel, Frankfurt a. M. (solo)
1997
Jeu de Paume, Paris (solo)
Space Shimoda, Tokyo, Japan (solo)
Gallery Bhak, Seoul, Korea (solo)
1996
Lisson Gallery, London, UK
Galerie J. Moussion, Paris, France (solo)
1995
Städtisches Museum Leverkusen, Germany (solo)
Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Galerie m Bochum, Germany (solo)
1994
The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea (solo)
Fondazione Mudima, Milan, Italy (solo)
1993
The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura, Japan (solo)
1992
SAGA, Grand Palais, Paris (solo)
Konggan Gallery, Busan, Korea (solo)
1991
Lorenzelli Arte, Milan, Italy (solo)
1990
Hara Museum ARC, Japan
1989
Tokyo Gallery, Tokyo
1988
The Museum of Fine Art, Gifu, Japan
1978
Düsseldorf Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Germany (exh. cat.)
Galerie m Bochum, Germany (solo)
1976
Galerie m Bochum, Germany (solo)

Literature

2008
The Art of Encounter, revised version, Lisson Gallery, London
2007
The Works of "LEE UFAN" Fondazione Mudima, Milano
2004
The Art of Encounter, Lisson Gallery, London
2002
Un art de la rencontre, Actes Sud, Arles, France
2001
Stopped on the way, Syoshi Yamada, Tokyo
2000
The Art of YOHAKU, Misuzu Shobo, Tokyo
1996
Selected Writings by Lee Ufan, Lisson Gallery, London
1994
The Works "Lee Ufan", Fondazione Mudima, Milan
1993
The Work of "Lee ufan", Toshi Shuppan, Tokyo
1988
Time Flicker, Ozawa Shoten, Tokyo
1986
The Printworks of Lee Ufan 1970-1986, Shirota Gallry, Tokyo
1986
The Works of "Lee Ufan", Bijutsu Shuppansha, Tokyo
1971
The Search for Encounter, Tabata Shoten, Tokyo