Seung-Taek Lee, Godret Stone 1958
Seung-Taek Lee
Godret Stone 1958
Stones, cords, wooden bar, 650 x 1730 mm

Tate Etc. looks at a recent acquisition, currently on view at Tate Modern

Seung-Taek Lee (born 1932) is one of the first generation of South Korean artists to have embraced the idea of experimentalism in art, and has developed a diverse practice ranging from sculpture and installation to performance and land art, often influenced by Korean traditions and folk sensibilities. Born in Kowon, North Korea, he moved south during the Korean War and has been living and working in Seoul since.

Godret Stone refers to stones traditionally used in tying knots when plaiting handcrafted mats. What interested Lee was the probability of fundamental changes in physical materiality: seemingly soft and floating, yet essentially solid and substantial. In 2004 he explained his thinking behind the piece in Kim Yung-hee’s essay Following Godret Stone: Entangled Energy/Spiritual World with Modernity:

I have been going to museums with the belief that Korean traditional things are the best in the world. One of the very objects that captured my attention was Godret stone. Once a decorative item in a household, Godret stones experienced unusual changes in material properties, becoming softer-looking objects, and inspired me to express this change in my early work. The important matter here is an individual dimension that the process of creation and development represents.

Godret Stone, 1958 was purchased with funds provided by the Asia-Pacific Acquisitions Commitee in 2012 
Sook-Kyung Lee is a research curator of Tate Research Centre and curator for Tate's Asia-Pacific Acquisitions Committee