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The exhibition called “Habiter le temps” (Live in time), devoted to Lee Ufan, a Korean artist, took place from the 27th of February to the 30th of September 2019 at the Pompidou-Metz Centre. Despite the demanding nature of the painter and sculptor’s art, the exhibition still attracted many visitors. A look back at the exhibition and the art of Lee Ufan with Alexis Kuperfis.

141,160 visitors came to admire the works of the Korean artist

As the exhibition closed on 30 September, it is time for a review. The least we can say is that the attendance figure is very encouraging for such a demanding and sometimes confusing exhibition. Indeed, 141,160 visitors came to admire Lee Ufan’s works at the Pompidou-Metz Centre.

They were able to discover about forty works made by the artist, from his first works in 1960 to the most recent, including Landscape I, II and III paintings. Unknown works by the artist that were presented in 1968 at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.

Who is Lee Ufan?

Lee Ufan was born in 1936 in a small town in the south of the Korean peninsula. He first studied oriental painting in Seoul, before going to Japan to study western philosophy. It was in this country, in 1960, that he made a major contribution to the creation of an artistic movement that would mark his entire life: the mono-ha. It is a movement based on the encounter between industrial and natural materials and on the relationship between the work and the space that composes it and with the spectator.

This interplay between art and space works particularly well for the artist, as his works are full of restraint. His paintings and sculptures never take up too much space in the room where they are exhibited and are very often described as minimalist. His works are striking for their simplicity and sobriety.

Lee Ufan’s paintings are mainly composed of moving dots or lines in shades of blue, grey and sometimes red on a white background. The nuances of his paintings are reminiscent of traditional Korean art made up of ink shades where the keywords are sobriety and elegance.

Lee Ufan is often described as an ecologist before his time, because his works make us think about the place of man in space and in the environment, major issues that we face today.

Let us conclude with a quote from the artist: “I am hostile to unlimited industrialization, to mass consumerism as a result of frenetic productivism. I am opposed to men wanting to shape the world according to their image. Therefore, however contradictory it may seem, I create with the aim of not creating.”