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Lee Ufan

introduction

Today, the work of painter and sculptor Lee Ufan is internationally renowned and admired worldwide. Born in a mountain village in South Korea in 1936, the young Lee Ufan received a traditional education, based on ancestral heritage. Initiated in Chinese culture at a very young age, he initially devoted himself to literature and writing. At the age of 20, he left his native Korea for Japan, where he studied philosophy. At the same time, he began to study art, taking an interest in Jackson Pollock and his abstract expressionism. He also studied traditional Japanese painting during this period. He is recognised as much for his work as a critic and theoretician, as for his art.

At the end of the 1960s, he became known as one of the founding members of the Mono-ha ("School of Things”) art movement. The principle of this school was to use natural materials, without adding or modifying anything, and to confront them with industrial materials. Lee Ufan, the group’s theoretician, explained that "this method didn't consist of using things and space to achieve an idea; it actually arose from the desire to place various elements in the relationships they maintain with each other”. This movement therefore wanted to question the very foundations of art and illustrate the links that exist between the natural and the artificial.

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