Lee Bae - Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Saturday, June 1, 2024 | Phillips
  • “When I started working with charcoal I saw at once that it was closely bound up with my own culture. What’s more, at the time I felt the need to keep a strong connection with my roots, like any unknown artist arriving in a city that he doesn’t know and whose language doesn’t speak - especially one coming from the Far East. I felt like a stranger, very far from home, and for me the charcoal was a way back to the world of Indian ink, of calligraphy, the atmosphere of house building that I had known as a child.”
    — Lee Bae

    Coming from a long lineage of monochrome painting that rests at the heart of his native Korea, Lee Bae’s esoteric black and white charcoal works are redolent of his Dansaekhwa forebears, and yet are unique reinterpretations of this mode of abstraction. Having moved to Paris in the nineties and beginning his career as assistant to the Mono-ha and Dansaekhwa master Lee Ufan for under a decade, it is curious to note that Lee Bae has taken his former tutor’s assertion “The truth likes to stay hidden” to heart: “It is why in art you will fail if you directly input the answer on the surface. You have to provoke curiosity – ‘What could this be?’ The viewer will then prick their ears to the surface to hear what the artist has to say.”


    True to his own statement, Lee Bae’s works hint at forms verging on organic, and yet are never representational. As can be seen in the present work, though the piece’s series is entitled Landscape, any resemblance to nature or terrain is nebulous at best. Instead, through the artist’s choice of medium, equilibrium between black and white, partition of space, interplay of density and transparency, Lee reveals landscapes where the forms, space, and elements express, rather, a philosophical and poetic relationship with the world. Lee’s pictorial and abstract universe concentrates on the evocative power of his chosen medium, creating an essential balance between the profound black of charcoal and the pearly white background. These graceful, weightless strokes function as visual cues that the artist methodically repeats onto his canvases, resulting in a striking contrast between force and lightness. This push and pull is all the more accentuated and forced to the fore in works such as Landscape ch3-33, where two perfectly balanced diagonal planes pulsate with equal power.  Bae's abstract forms are wholly autonomous, demonstrating their true nature and essence, offering each work in his oeuvre a zone of energy, purity, and spirituality.


    Lee Bae’s works have been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Phi Foundation, Canada; Indang Museum, Korea; Wilmotte Foundation, Italy; Musée des Beaux-Arts, France; and Musée Guimet, France. His pieces are also within institutional collectionals including the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MMCA), Korea; Leeum-Samsung Museum of Art, Korea; Fondation Maeght, France; Musée Cernuschi, France; Baruj Foundation Spain, among others. His current show, La Maison de La Lune Brûlée, is showing within the 60th International Art Exhibition of 2024 edition of the Venice Biennale. 


    Detail of the present work

    i The artist in conversation with Sim Eunlog, quoted in ‘My External Memory – Conversation with Lee Bae’, online


    • Provenance

      Perrotin Gallery, Hong Kong
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


Landscape ch3-33

signed, titled and dated 'Lee Bae 2003 "Landscape ch3-33"' on the reverse
charcoal on canvas
117 x 82 cm. (46 1/8 x 32 1/4 in.)
Executed in 2003.

Full Cataloguing

HK$280,000 - 380,000 

Sold for HK$406,400

Contact Specialist

Anastasia Salnikoff
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2014

Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 1 June 2024