Artist biography

South Korean painter and sculptor. He quickly interrupted his fine art studies at Seoul National University when he settled in Japan in 1956; he graduated in philosophy at Nihon University, Tokyo, in 1961. Whilst studying philosophy Ufan painted in a restrained, traditional Japanese style, eschewing the expressive abstraction of the contemporary Japanese Gutai movement. Elements of this approach, particularly the attention to surface, were later crucial in forming the ideas of the Japanese Monoha or ‘Object School' of the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, Ufan's most representative work began with the From Point and From Line series in 1971. In these, he traced out fading marks or lines using a pigment suspended in a viscous glue. The From Line paintings carried out this process using an ordered series of cascading lines, the brush being drawn down the canvas until the paint was spent, as in 1975 (see 1993 exh. cat., p. 15); in the From Point works he adopted a similar method in order to produce a fading series of small, discrete, rectangular brushstokes. Ufan continued to employ this approach in the 1980s and 1990s, but introduced different compositional strategies. For his sculpture he explored similar formal interests using minimal means: typically, he favoured stone and sheets of iron, though he employed cotton, glass and wood in the Monoha period. Relatum (1990; see 1993 exh. cat., p. 89) juxtaposes flat upright iron screens against a collection of flat horizontal stones; it is typical of the later work.

A. Tani and M. Nuridsany: Lee Ufan (Tokyo, 1993)

11 April 2001

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