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  • Catalogue Essay

    Lee Ufan is considered one of the most important contemporary artists in the Far East. He describes the act of expression as ‘a particular form of dialogue with the world, and an act of self-limitation.’(Lee Ufan as quoted in Lynn MacRitchie's, Lee Ufan at Lisson, Art in America, April 1997) His minimalist and simple canvases aim towards evoking and capturing the sense of infinity. In the late 1960s Lee Ufan became associated with the Japanese artists’ movement Mono-Ha.The Mono-Ha or Object School group gained international recognition due to their rejection of theWestern art’s notions of representation and expression of the artist’s personal and subjective experiences and choices. Instead the Mono-ha movement focused on the elementary relationship between the material and perceptions. Lee Ufan soon became one of the leading members of the group. Ufan’s works consist of single brush-strokes that are repeated on plain white canvases. Each brush-stroke, made with dark blue paint (as seen in the ‘From Line’ and ‘From Point’ series) or with pigment mixed with ground-up stone ( as seen in the Correspondence series), is positioned carefully on the canvas as a result of a long process of contemplation. Ufan describes this process as following: ‘One way of showing the idea of infinity in a picture is the repetition of pictorial elements. As with living organisms, it is a repetition of birth and death, death and birth, yet it must be sequenced so that each moment is unique and separate.The organic device, where by each brushstroke, each element is independent and mutually related, makes a picture full of forces.’ (Lee Ufan taken from the Tate Gallery website) From the early 1980s the evocative idea of infinity became central to Lee Ufan’s work and the main force in his Correspondence series which he began in the early 90’s. Ufan conceives the canvas as ‘a postulated space: an indeterminate thing between actuality and ideal’. (Lee Ufan as quoted in Lynn MacRitchie's, Lee Ufan at Lisson, Art in America, April 1997)The minimal few brush-strokes which are intensively meditated and controlled in the Correspondence series create a site for contemplation on a plain white field of a canvas. The artist has described these developments: ‘Until the early 1980s I always composed repetitious figures, as a pictorial enactment of the idea of infinity.Then, somehow I realized that the ground of a picture reveals itself and itself expresses infinity. It seems to me that each delimited brushstroke, each element, gradually became liberated from me, fully inhaling and exhaling space, and achieved more liveness than before.’ (Lee Ufan taken from theTate Gallery website)





Pigment and oil on canvas.

228 x 182 cm. (89 3/4 x 71 1/2 in).

Signed on the reverse.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £96,500

KYOBAI, Japanese Art and Culture

3 Apr 2008, 6pm