Gow Langford Gallery presents a selection of works from the highly regarded, formative modernist painter and sculptor Lee Ufan. This will be his first solo exhibition in New Zealand.
A philosopher and artist, Korean-born Ufan has a unique way in which he handles his practice and develops his works. He was the primary proponent of Mono-ha, a Japanese theoretical movement which translates to ‘School of Things’. Based on the philosophy of minimalism and ignited by social, cultural and political events of the time, this movement saw the use of natural and man-made materials brought together as mere arrangements of things that already exist. These sculptures include the use of stone placed upon glass, rubber sheets, or steel plates. The materials are barely manipulated beyond their natural form, and are positioned plainly in front of the observer. Thus, allowing a contemplative reflection on their existence, materiality and your own personal relationship to the materials, and hence to nature itself.
His sculptural philosophies translate into his equally minimalist paintings in the From Line and From Point series explored in the late 70s and early 80s. Using a minimal colour palette, ground mineral pigment is dragged down or across the canvas in one gestural motion. Some works simply have one line swept onto the surface; others are more systematic, exploring a rhythmic pattern of line and point. This earlier painted series has been a developmental process for Ufan, where recent works are presented as even more minimalist, with a single brush of gradient colour swept upon the blank background. Akin to his sculptural works, the approach here is the coexistence between medium and surface, background and foreground, propelling minimalist philosophies to the forefront of the viewer.
Born and raised in South Korea, Ufan left the country in the 1950s due to political upheaval at the time. He continued his studies in Japan, completing a degree in philosophy, following on from his studies in painting. Ufan’s works are held in over 50 public galleries worldwide and he has exhibited extensively in Japan, Korea and throughout Europe, and more recently in the United States.
This exhibition coincides with the Auckland Art Gallery’s, Lee Mingwei and His Relations: The Art of Participation from 5th November 2016 – 19th March 2017, which includes a formative Lee Ufan work from 1980.