Lee Ufan

Lee Ufan, born in 1936 in Korea (now South Korea), is a seminal figure in contemporary art known for his significant contributions to the Mono-ha movement and his minimalist aesthetic. He studied traditional Eastern painting in Korea before moving to Japan in the late 1950s, where he immersed himself in both traditional Japanese art and Western modernist movements.

Lee Ufan's artistic philosophy revolves around the concept of "the encounter" (encounter with materials, encounter with space), emphasizing the relationship between objects and their surroundings. This philosophy became central to the Mono-ha (School of Things) movement in Japan during the late 1960s and early 1970s, where artists explored the nature of materials and their inherent properties.

His early works often consist of simple, repetitive actions or arrangements involving natural and industrial materials such as stone, steel, and glass. These works sought to reveal the essence and characteristics of each material, highlighting their textures, weights, and spatial relationships. One of his notable series, "Relatum" (1968-), exemplifies this approach, where stones are placed carefully on steel plates or embedded in gravel, creating a dialogue between object and environment.

Lee Ufan's minimalist aesthetic and philosophical approach to art have had a profound influence on contemporary art globally. His work has been exhibited in major museums and galleries worldwide, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Tate Modern in London. He has participated in significant exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale and Documenta.

In addition to his artistic practice, Lee Ufan is also known for his writings and teachings on art theory and aesthetics. His essays and lectures have been instrumental in shaping discourse around minimalism, abstraction, and the relationship between art and philosophy.

Lee Ufan continues to create art and engage with international audiences, exploring new materials and expanding upon his philosophical inquiries. His enduring legacy as an artist and thinker underscores his impact on contemporary art and his ongoing relevance in shaping the dialogue between East and West in the global art world.