Lee Ufan

Relatum - Stage

06 Feb 2018 - 27 Jan 2019

Lee Ufan, 2018
Relatum - Stage
Image © Mike Din
Relatum - Stage
6 February - 27 January 2019

Artist Lee Ufan brings new public sculpture to Kensington Gardens.

‘The work of art is a representation of the stage.’ Lee Ufan

The Serpentine continues its exploration of public art with a sculptural commission by artist Lee Ufan, installed outside the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens until 29 July 2018.

In 2010, the Serpentine brought new sculpture to Kensington Gardens for the first time in 35 years, presenting Anish Kapoor’s Turning the World Upside Down, in collaboration with The Royal Parks. This tradition continued with Fischli & Weiss’s Rock on Top of Another Rock in 2013, Bertrand Lavier’s Fountain in 2014, Michael Craig-Martin’s Transience in 2015 and Alex Katz’s sculpture, Ada (Wind Vane), in 2016. In its subtle interplay of elements and setting, Ufan’s new work, Relatum – Stage (2018), builds on ideas that permeated previous artworks in the series, as well as the artist’s own ongoing exploration of materiality and difference.

Lee Ufan (b. 1936 in Kyongnam, South Korea) came to prominence in the late 1960s as one of the major theoretical and practical proponents of the avant-garde Mono-ha group. The first contemporary art movement in Japan to gain international recognition, Mono-ha (Object School) rejected Western notions of representation, focusing on the relationships between materials and perceptions rather than on expression or intervention. Ufan’s minimalist works using only two materials – steel and stone – are characteristic of this school of thought.

He is best known for his Relatum series, which he has been making since the 1960s and has presented in various public spaces, including the Château de Versailles and the Lee Ufan Museum in Naoshima, Japan. Each installation comprises one or more light-coloured, round stones and dark, rectangular, iron plates. Relatum, the title given to Ufan’s public sculptures, is a philosophical term denoting things or events between which a relation exists. This radical approach to the artwork, not as an object but as a network of relationships, shifts the artistic experience to an encounter or occasion that unfolds around the viewer in a particular time and space.

Comprised of two, angled, mirrored, steel sheets and two different-sized stones, Relatum – Stage merges the natural and industrial in a poetic installation that reflects the surrounding environment of the Park. Sourced in Wales, Ufan’s stones also recall Fischli & Weiss’s Rock on Top of Another Rock, a play on Neolithic monuments in the British countryside, such as Stonehenge. In focusing on the precise conceptual and spatial juxtaposition of his materials, Ufan seeks to find a balance that heightens the moment of encounter, allowing us to see ‘the world as it is’.

‘The highest level of expression is not to create something from nothing, but rather to nudge something that already exists so that the world shows up more vividly.’ Lee Ufan

Lee Ufan
Lee Ufan (born 1936, in Kyongnam, South Korea) is a painter, sculptor, writer and philosopher who studied calligraphy, poetry and painting at the College of Kyongnam and the University of Seoul. Ufan has been the subject of major shows at Couvent de la Tourette, Eveux, France (2017); Château La Coste, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, France (2016); Palace of Versailles, France (2014); Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (2011); Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, (2009); the Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan (2005); the Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne Métropole, Rhône-Alpes, France (2005); the Samsung Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, South Korea (2003); Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2001); the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (1997); and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea (1994). He was awarded the Praemium Imperiale for painting in 2001 and the UNESCO Prize in 2000. In 2010 the Lee Ufan Museum, designed by Tadao Ando, opened at Benesse Art Site, Naoshima, Japan.

Tags: Anish Kapoor, Alex Katz, Bertrand Lavier, Ufan Lee, Lee Ufan, Fischli & Weiss