Lee Ufan
15th Anniversary of the National Art Center, Tokyo

Lee Ufan at Kamakura, 2022
Photo© Lee Ufan, photo: Shu Nakagawa

Response
2021
Acrylic on canvas
291 × 218 cm
Collection of the artist
Photo: Shu Nakagawa

Relatum – The Arch of Versailles
2014
Stone and stainless steel
Collection of the artist
Photo: Archives kamel mennour
Courtesy the artist, kamel mennour, Paris, Pace, New York

Landscape I, II, III
1968 / 2015
Spray paint on canvas
218.2 × 291 cm
Private collection, deposited at The Museum of Modern Art, Gunma
Photo: Nobutada Omote

Relatum
1968/2019
Stone, steel, glass
Stone, approximately 80 × 60 × 80 cm; steel, 240 × 200 × 1.6 cm; glass, 240 × 200 × 1.5 cm
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo Photo: Kei Miyajima

Relatum-Dwelling (B)
2017
Stone
Collection of the artist
Installation view: Lee Ufan chez le Corbusier - Au-delà des souvenirs, Couvent de La Tourette, Éveux, France, 2017
© Foundation Le Corbusier, photo: Jean-Philippe Simard

Relatum-The mirror road
2021
Stone, stainless steel
Collection of the artist
Installation view: Lee Ufan: Requiem, The Alyscamps, Arles, France, 2021
© Claire Dorn, Courtesy Lee Ufan and Lisson Gallery

From Point
1975
Pigment and glue on canvas
162 × 292 cm
The National Museum of Art, Osaka

From Point
1977
Japanese pigment and glue on canvas
182 × 227 cm
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

From Line
1977
Japanese pigment and glue on canvas
182 × 227 cm
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

With Winds
1990
Oil on canvas
291 × 218 cm
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

Exhibition Overview

It is with great pleasure that we present a major retrospective by Lee Ufan (born in 1936), a contemporary artist who has received a great deal of attention internationally as a prominent member of the Japan-based Mono-ha group at the National Art Center, Tokyo commemorating its 15th Anniversary.

Eagerly absorbing a wide range of thought and literature from the East and the West, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Lee, who focused on the uncertainty of vision, spearheaded Mono-ha (lit. “School of Things”) by combining natural and artificial materials in a temperate manner in both his visual art and writings. Moreover, Lee evolved a worldview based on the notion that all things are interrelated not only in his visual art but also in his writings.

Lee's works liberate art from the world of images, subjects, and meaning, and raise questions about the relationship between things, and things and people. This proves that the entire world exists synchronically and is mutually related. Oddly enough, the threat of the novel coronavirus has forced us to change our anthropocentric worldview. Lee's highly revelatory thought and practice provides us with insights about how we might escape this unprecedented crisis.

The exhibition assembles Lee's most important works, including everything from his earliest pre-Mono-ha pieces, which considered the problem of vision, the Relatum series, which changed the concept of sculpture, and his highly spiritual paintings, which produce a tranquil rhythm. In addition to showcasing Lee's past works, enabling us to trace the trajectory of his creation practice, the exhibition is also scheduled to include his latest ground-breaking efforts.

Date August 10 (Wed.) – November 7 (Mon.), 2022
Closed on Tuesdays
Opening Hours 10:00-18:00
*10:00-20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays
(Last admission 30 minutes before closing)
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo
Special Exhibition Gallery 1E
7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8558
Organized by The National Art Center, Tokyo; The Asahi Shimbun; Japan Arts Council; Agency for Cultural Affairs
With the cooperation of SCAI THE BATHHOUSE
Admission
(tax included)
General 1,700 yen (Adults), 1,200 yen (College students), 800yen (High school students)
  • Visitors who are junior high school students or younger will be admitted for free.
  • Disabled persons (along with the one assistant) will be admitted for free upon presenting the Disabled Person’s Booklet or an equivalent form of government-issued ID.
  • Free entrance to the exhibition for high school students from October 8 (Sat.) to October 10 (Mon.), 2022, upon presenting student ID.
  • Tickets are available through the National Art Center, Tokyo (on sale from August 10, open days only), ONLINE TICKET (on sale from 10:00 on July 27) , Ticket PIA (in Japanese only, on sale from 10:00 on July 27).
  • It has been decided that Group Tickets will not be sold for this exhibition.
  • Reduction (100 yen off) applies to visitors who present the ticket stub of a current exhibition at The National Art Center, Tokyo; Suntory Museum of Art; or Mori Art Museum (Art Triangle Roppongi). Please show the ticket stub at the "Lee Ufan, 15th Anniversary of the National Art Center, Tokyo" exhibition ticket booth.
  • Students, faculty and staff of “Campus Members”, can view this exhibition for 1,000 yen (students) and 1,500 yen (faculty/staff). Please purchase tickets at the "Lee Ufan, 15th Anniversary of the National Art Center, Tokyo" exhibition ticket booth.
  • Credit card (UC, Master Card, VISA, JCB, AMEX, Diners Club, DISCOVER), e-cash (Suica, PASMO, ICOCA, etc.), iD, J-Debit and Union Pay are available for purchasing tickets.
Inquiries (+81) 47-316-2772 (Hello Dial)

Artist Profile

Lee Ufan


Lee Ufan at the Alyscamps, Arles, France, 2021
© StudioLeeUfan, photo: Claire Dorn

Born in Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea, in 1936, Lee attended Seoul National University before moving to Japan in 1956. He later studied philosophy at Nihon University. Lee is known as a leading figure in Mono-ha, one of the most significant art movements in postwar Japan, which emerged in the late ’60s.
His essay “From Object to Being” was awarded the Bijutsu Shuppan-sha Art Criticism Prize in 1969, and his book The Art of Encounter, which appeared in 1971, became the theoretical pillar for Mono-ha. His 2002 book The Art of Margins has been translated into English, French, and Korean, etc. In recent years, Lee, who has been consistently showing his work in Japan and abroad for over 50 years, has become increasingly active in other countries, holding solo exhibitions at the Guggenheim (New York, USA, 2011), Palace of Versailles (Versailles, France, 2014) and Centre Pompidou-Metz (Metz, France, 2019). Meanwhile in Japan, the Lee Ufan Museum, designed by the architect Ando Tadao, opened on the island of Naoshima in Kagawa Prefecture in 2010. This will be Lee’s first large-scale solo exhibition since Lee Ufan: The Art of Margins, which was held at the Yokohama Museum of Art in 2005.


Even if the self is finite, the infinite appears in our relation to the world around. Artistic expression is a revelation of an infinite dimension.

────Lee Ufan

Exhibition Highlights

The artist Lee Ufan personally determined the composition of this exhibition, which comprehensively highlights Lee’s work, development, and distinctive character from the dawn of his career in the 1960s to his most recent works. The exhibition is divided into two main sections, one focusing on sculpture and the other on painting, with the processes of his sculptures’ and paintings’ development presented in such a way that the viewer can follow each chronologically. Also, a large-scale stone and stainless steel work will be installed in the venue’s open-air exhibition space.

Appearing at the beginning of the exhibition are Landscape I, Landscape II and Landscape III (all 1968), a set of three paintings executed with pink fluorescent paint on canvas, which were included in the exhibition Contemporary Korean Painting (1968) at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and are representative of Lee’s early style. Like the pair of reliefs Fourth Structure A and Fourth Structure B (both 1968), also employing fluorescent paint, these works produce powerful optical illusions that disrupt the viewer’s vision. With their deceptive optical effects, these works embody trends that flourished in Japan in the late 1960s.

Relatum, ongoing since around 1968, is a series of three-dimensional pieces primarily comprising combinations of stone, steel, and glass. These materials are largely left unaltered, and rather than concepts or meanings, Lee’s focus is on relations: between object and place, object and space, object and object, object and image. Since the 1990s, Lee has also become more conscious of the dynamics of objects and environments, and has produced works in the Relatum series in which stone and steel forms are correlated. His more recent works have tended to be increasingly site-specific, as exemplified by Relatum – Dwelling (B) (2017), installed at the La Tourette monastery in France.

In 2014, Lee had a solo exhibition at the Palais de Versailles in France. Relatum – the Arch of Versailles, an enormous stainless-steel arch supported by two stones on either side, was installed outdoors at the site and drew widespread attention. After passing beneath one of Lee’s huge arches, the viewer is sure to experience their surrounding environment in a new way. In 2019, Porte vers l’infini was permanently installed in the town of Naoshima, Kagawa Prefecture. For the current exhibition, a new arched sculpture will be unveiled in the open-air exhibition space of the National Art Center, Tokyo.

After being inspired by Barnett Newman’s solo exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA) in 1971, Lee recalled the calligraphy he had learned in early childhood and became more interested in the expression of time in painting. The From Point and From Line series of paintings, launched in the early 1970s, present color in the process of gradually fading. These systematic series, which convey the passage of time through vestiges of actions, continued for approximately a decade.

In the 1980s Lee’s paintings took on a more chaotic aspect, with dynamic brushwork, as seen in the From Winds and With Winds series. From around the end of the 1980s, the number of brushstrokes progressively dwindled and empty space became increasingly prominent. In the 2000s, Lee radically curtailed his painterly actions, experimenting with reactions between just a few brushstrokes and blank, unpainted space, as in the series Correspondance and Dialogue. In contrast to the temporality of From Point and From Line, the paintings in these series are spatial in nature.

LEE UFAN GUIDE

Related events

“Dialogues” Lee Ufan Dialogue Series. Matsui Shigeru and Lee Ufan.

Lee Ufan Dialogue Series with International Artists, Curators, Critics, and Architects.

Speakers Matsui Shigeru and Lee Ufan
Matsui Shigeru/Profile Matsui Shigeru was born in Tokyo in 1975. Poet and Associate professor of Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences. Author of "Art Criticism and 1960s Image Culture" (2021). Curated exhibitions include “Arata Isozaki 12×5=60,” (the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, 2014) and "Arata Isozaki: Third Space," (Oita Art Museu, 2019).
Date/Time July 26 (Tue.)
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo, 3F Auditorium
*Not open to the public.
Online streaming URL Please access to the following URL.
URL:https://vimeo.com/showcase/9748811

“Dialogues” Lee Ufan Dialogue Series. Wang Shuye and Lee Ufan.

Lee Ufan Dialogue Series with International Artists, Curators, Critics, and Architects.

Speakers Wang Shuye and Lee Ufan
Wang Shuye (Profile) Wang Shuye was born in China’s Heilongjiang province in 1963. Since came to Japan in 1990. he has been passionately painting insightful visual spaces of a world that exists prior to becoming a subject of our awareness from bases in Kamakura and Beijing.
Date/Time August 21 (Sun.) 14:00-15:00
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo, 3F Auditorium
*This event will not be streamed live online, but an archived version is planned for release at a later date.
Capacity Limited to 100
*No registration required, first-come-first-served basis.
*Numbered tickets will be distributed at the Information from 12:30 on the day.
*Admission is free.
*Time and content may change without prior notice

“Dialogues” Lee Ufan Dialogue Series. Sakai Tadayasu and Lee Ufan.

Lee Ufan Dialogue Series with International Artists, Curators, Critics, and Architects.

Speakers Sakai Tadayasu (Director of the Setagaya Art Museum) and Lee Ufan
Sakai Tadayasu (Profile) Sakai Tadayasu was born in Hokkaido in 1941. He is currently the Director of the Setagaya Art Museum in Tokyo and Visiting Professor at the Tohoku University of Art and Design . In the past, Sakai Tadayasu has also served as the Director of The Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama and written numerous works as a Japanese art critic.
Date/Time August 27 (Sat.) 14:00~15:00 (Doors open 30 minutes before)
*This event will not be streamed live online, but an archived version is planned for release at a later date.
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo, 3F Auditorium
Capacity Limited to 100
*Click the link below to register
https://forms.office.com/r/6rnaNEa77u *Booked Out
*The event will be held in Japanese without translation.
*Free, but an admission fee for the exhibition is required separately.
*Time and content may change without prior notice.

“Dialogues” Lee Ufan Dialogue Series. Hans Ulrich Obrist and Lee Ufan.

Lee Ufan Dialogue Series with International Artists, Curators, Critics, and Architects

Speakers Hans Ulrich Obrist and Lee Ufan
Hans Ulrich Obrist (Profile) Born in 1968, Zurich, Switzerland. One of the most powerful contemporary curator, critic, and art historian in today's world. He is the artistic director at the Serpentine Galleries, London.
Date/Time September 4 (Sun.) 14:00~15:00 (Doors open 30 minutes before)
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo, 3F Auditorium
Language Japanese and English with simultaneous interpretation.
Capacity Limited to 80 (first-come first-served basis)
Application Form Click the link below to register.
https://forms.office.com/r/44B1BmhTva
【Registration acceptance starts at 10:00, August 29】
【We will stop accepting applications once all the places are taken】 *Booked Out
Participation fee Free, but an admission fee for the exhibition is required separately.
*Mr. Obrist will take part in this program online. Mr. Lee will take part in this program in-person.
*Time and content may change without prior notice
*The event archival video is planned for release later.

Symposium

Date/Time September 11 (Sun.) 13:00-16:15 (JST) The doors open 30 minutes before.
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo, 3F Auditorium
Capacity Limited to 80.
*Registration is required. (In case of too many applications, we will hold a draw for place allocation.)
Language Japanese and English with simultaneous interpretation.
Application Form Click the link below to register.
https://forms.office.com/r/ZCycY8zbmW
【Application deadline September 3 (Sat.) 23:59】*Booked Out
*In case of too many applications, we will hold a draw for place allocation. We will inform you the result by e-mail after September 6 (Tue.).
*Free, but an admission fee for the exhibition is required separately.
Program
  • Part I 13:00-14:30
    13:00-13:10 Introduction: Naoki Yoneda (Curator, The National Art Center, Tokyo)
    13:10-13:50 Keynote (In-person): Alexandra Munroe (Director, Curatorial Affairs, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and Senior Curator, Asian Art and Senior Advisor, Global Arts, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum)
    13:50-14:10 Presentation 1: Mika Yoshitake (Independent Curator)
    14:10-14:30 Presentation 2: Doryun Chong (Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+)
  • Pause 14:30-14:45
  • Part II 14:45-16:15
    14:45-15:05 Presentation 3 (Online): Silke von Berswordt-Wallrabe (Art Historian and Chairwoman of Situation Kunst Foundation)
    15:05-15:25 Presentation 4: Jean-Marie Gallais (Curator, Pinault Collection)
    15:25-16:05 Roundtable: Lee Ufan and all participants
    16:05-16:15 Q&A

Live streaming

Live streaming The symposium will be live streamed on Zoom. Click the link below to register.
https://forms.office.com/r/tSmGxXd36h
【Application deadline September 7 (Wed.) 23:59】
*We will inform you the URL for live streaming by e-mail on September 8 (Wed.).


[Additional application]
Click the link below to register.
https://forms.office.com/r/AYH7AiTDFs
*We will inform you the URL for live streaming by auto-reply email.
【Application deadline September 11 (Sun) 11:59】
Capacity Limited to 450.
【We will stop accepting applications once all the places are taken】
Participation fee Free
*Time and content may change without prior notice.
*Taking photographs and audio/video recordings is not permitted.
*Please wear a face mask.
*The event archival video is planned for release later.

Touring Information

The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art: 2022.12.13 Tue. – 2023.2.12 Sun.