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ART X Lagos: Nigeria’s Art Renaissance Ocula Report ART X Lagos: Nigeria’s Art Renaissance 17 November 201817 Nov 2018 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Nigeria's art scene has flourished over the last decade, leading to a renewed interest in cultivating and supporting modern and contemporary art in the country. Ranked Africa's largest economy in 2017, making up 0.8 percent of the world's GDP, a surge in wealth amongst some individuals has led to a developing collector base (not to mention rising...

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Cao Fei Ocula Conversation Cao Fei Artist

Cao Fei's first large-scale institutional exhibition in Asia, A hollow in a world too full (8 September 2018–4 January 2019), is taking place at Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong, the city's new non-profit art centre housed in a former colonial police and prison complex in Central. Organised in collaboration with Ullens Center for Contemporary Art...

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Shanghai's West Bund and Art021 fairs overlap in 2018 Ocula Report Shanghai's West Bund and Art021 fairs overlap in 2018 17 November 201817 Nov 2018 : Diana d’Arenberg for Ocula

The last time I visited West Bund Art & Design was four years ago, when the fair was in its first year of operation: a small, boutique offering held in a cavernous hangar that seemed too big for it. Much has changed since then. Mirroring the rapid development of the city itself, West Bund has grown from 25 galleries in 2014 to a fair that...

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Provocative and inventive, Lee Bul (이불) is one of the leading Korean artists of her generation. Though she has worked in performance, sculpture, painting, installation and video, she is most known for her monstrous sculptures, cyborgs and utopian landscapes. Born to dissident parents during the military dictatorship of Park Chung-Hee in South Korea, Lee emerged in the 1990s through works that channelled the emotional impact of political persecution and restrictive gender roles into visual form. Since then, the artist has investigated human desires for perfection and stability and the implications of technology in the contemporary world.

After completing her studies at Hongik University in 1987, Lee embarked on her career as a performance artist on the streets of Korea and Japan. Donning soft wearable sculptures that were described as 'simultaneously alluring and grotesque' by Ikon Gallery, she addressed the themes of political instability and gender roles in a then—and still—very conservative and male-dominated Korean society. In Cravings (1989), Lee transformed herself into a monstrous creature, whose tentacles and externalised internal organs alluded to the anxieties of the artist and her fellow citizens living under conditions fraught with government censorship and civil unrest. The performance later developed into 'Monster' (1998–2011), a series where the wearable sculptures evolved into freestanding statues. Abortion, also performed in 1989, showed the artist hanging upside down from the ceiling and generated controversy for Lee's bold critique of Korean traditions regarding women's bodies and sexuality. Around this time, Lee also participated in the founding of Museum, an underground collective of avant-garde artists, performers and musicians in Seoul whose members are still influential in Korea today.

Lee's work from the 1990s explores the human body in its relation to beauty, life, death and technology. Majestic Splendor (1997)—an installation created for The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York—consisted of a decaying fish adorned with sequins, beads and flowers in a glass display case. Although the exhibition closed prematurely due to its smell, curator Harald Szeemann invited Lee to recreate it in the Lyon Biennale that same year. In a powerful visualisation of the metamorphosis from the beautiful to the sickening, Lee highlighted the inevitable cycle of life and death.

Her iconic 'Cyborg' (1997–2011) series, on the other hand, examines the human desire for the perfect body. Cyborg Red and Cyborg Blue, both completed in 1997 as a pair, show silicon casts of female figures based on Greco-Roman statues with machine-like body parts. Because Lee's cyborgs often appear as females, they have been regarded as a critique of the social expectation for women to have idealised bodies. However, the artist has shown that her concerns extend to mankind at large in her karaoke installations, including Gravity Greater than Velocity (1999) and Live Forever (2002). Safely tucked in the empty karaoke capsules and pods, the human body is reduced to its sensory functions—technology may be alluring, but humankind has reason to be alarmed about its advancements.

In the new millennium, Lee shifted away from the body to human desires for utopia. 'Mon grand récit', an ongoing series since 2005, features futuristic ruins and landscapes comprised of small-scale railways, LED signs and architectural structures. Perched on skeletal frameworks, Lee's landscapes are a fragile mass that could collapse in a matter of seconds—as unrealised hopes often do in utopias. Lee has also begun to incorporate reflective materials in her architectural installations, most notably in After Bruno Taut (Devotion to Drift) (2013)—a floating palace of crystal beads, chains and mirrors. Inspired by the futuristic ideals and works of Bruno Taut, a 20th-century German architect and the creator of the Glass Pavilion, Lee uses reflectivity to allude to utopian ideals as well as a means to think about military Korea, now several decades in the past.

Lee has regularly exhibited internationally at venues such as Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2012); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012); Domus Artium 2002, Salamanca (2007); Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2004); the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2002); and Musée d'Art Contemporain, Marseille (2002). Her work is also part of many public collections. These include Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; 4Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; and Yu-un, Obayashi Collection, Tokyo. She has had works included in the Biennale of Sydney (2016), Gwangju Biennale (2014), Taipei Biennial (2006–7) and Venice Biennale (1999). Today, the artist lives and works in Seoul, Korea.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

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Untitled (Mekamelencolia - Velvet #6 DDRG10NB) by Lee Bul contemporary artwork Lee BulUntitled (Mekamelencolia - Velvet #6 DDRG10NB), 2018 Human hair, mother of pearl, acrylic, dried flower, and ink on silk velvet
145 x 207.5 x 10.5 cm (incl frame)
Lehmann Maupin Request price & availability
Untitled (Mekamelencolia - Velvet #5 DDRG18LM) by Lee Bul contemporary artwork Lee BulUntitled (Mekamelencolia - Velvet #5 DDRG18LM), 2018 Human hair, mother of pearl, acrylic, dried flower, and ink on silk velvet
145 x 207.5 x 10.5 cm (incl frame)
Lehmann Maupin Request price & availability
Untitled (Anagram Leather #8) by Lee Bul contemporary artwork Lee BulUntitled (Anagram Leather #8), 2003/2018 Leather covered cast fiberglass, stainless steel, and stainless steel wire
48.03 x 23.62 x 10.63 inches
Lehmann Maupin Request price & availability
Untitled (Anagram Leather #6) by Lee Bul contemporary artwork Lee BulUntitled (Anagram Leather #6), 2004/2018 Leather covered hand-cut polyurethane panels on aluminium armature, stainless steel, and stainless steel wire
67.72 x 30.31 x 10.63 inches
Lehmann Maupin Request price & availability
Perdu XI by Lee Bul contemporary artwork Lee BulPerdu XI, 2018 Mother of pearl and acrylic paint on lacquered wooden base panel with steel frame
32 x 74 inches
Lehmann Maupin Request price & availability
Perdu III by Lee Bul contemporary artwork Lee BulPerdu III, 2018 Mother of pearl and acrylic paint on lacquered wooden base panel with steel frame
32.68 x 74.76 x 2.6 inches
Lehmann Maupin Request price & availability
Mask for a Warrior Princess by Lee Bul contemporary artwork Lee BulMask for a Warrior Princess, 1996 Sequins, beads, wires, feathers, chrome paint, mannequin head
40 x 25 x 25 cm
PKM Gallery Request price & availability
Visible Pumping Heart IV by Lee Bul contemporary artwork Lee BulVisible Pumping Heart IV, 1994 Feathers, fake hair, fabric, sequins in acrylic box
150 x 20 x 20 cm
PKM Gallery Request price & availability

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Lee Bul, Solo Exhibition at Lehmann Maupin,
Closed
12 January–11 February 2017 Lee Bul Solo ExhibitionLehmann Maupin, 536 West 22nd Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Lee Bul, Lee Bul at PKM Gallery,
Closed
26 August–26 September 2015 Lee Bul Lee BulPKM Gallery, Seoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Lee Bul , Inaugural Hong Kong Exhibition at Lehmann Maupin,
Closed
14 March–11 May 2013 Lee Bul Inaugural Hong Kong ExhibitionLehmann Maupin, Hong Kong

Represented By

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EVA International: Ireland’s Biennial Talks About Power Ocula Report EVA International: Ireland’s Biennial Talks About Power 6 July 20186 Jul 2018 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

If Koyo Kouoh's 37th EVA International took the Easter Rising of 1916 as its starting point, marking the beginning of a revolutionary period that culminated in the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, then Inti Guerrero's follow-up edition continues the trajectory.With no title, the 38th edition of EVA International (14 April–8 July...

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Gwangju Biennale: Burning Down The House Ocula Report Gwangju Biennale: Burning Down The House 4 October 20144 Oct 2014 : Jeesun Park for Ocula

Gwangju is only the sixth largest city in Korea but its history has become well-known to art audiences around the world through its provocative biennale, now a fixed event in the international art calendar. The Gwangju Biennale began twenty years ago specifically to commemorate the historic fight for democracy that took place in the city, known...

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Phong Bui Ocula Conversation Phong Bui Curator, 'Bloodflames Revisited'

In March 2014, a show opened at Paul Kasmin Gallery titled Alexander the Great: The Iolas Gallery 1955–1987, which celebrated the legendary gallerist Alexander Iolas, who was among the first to introduce American audiences to Surrealism and who gave Andy Warhol his first gallery exhibition (and, coincidentally, also his last in 1987). The...

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Rachel Lehmann Ocula Conversation Rachel Lehmann Founding Partner of Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

Rachel Lehmann is not only one half of the gallery powerhouse that is Lehmann Maupin, but she is also an international citizen of the world. Lehmann was born in Asmara, Ethiopia, and studied at the University of Fribourg in France. She worked at the legendary Sonnabend Gallery in New York, and was the proprietor of two contemporary galleries in...

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Related Press

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Lee Bul at Hayward Gallery, London Related Press Lee Bul at Hayward Gallery, London ArtReveiw : 10 July 2018

Feminist science-fiction has long played on the idea that women are liberated when humans are confronted with other intelligences.

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Lee Bul’s Intergalactic Feminist World Ignites Hayward Related Press Lee Bul’s Intergalactic Feminist World Ignites Hayward Elephant : 30 May 2018

The sci-fi imagination of Lee Bul literally lit up the Hayward Gallery last night, as one of the artist’s works set on fire just an hour before the private view was scheduled to occur. It was an appropriate moment for the exhibition, as the works look as though they have smashed into the gallery from another cosmos.

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Korean Cultural Centre UK Related Press Korean Cultural Centre UK e-flux : 15 June 2017

The history of what in Europe and North America has been categorised in an art-historical context as performance art is one that continues to be revised and retold in East Asia. The body as a tool, language and artistic medium developed in the visual arts in Korea under precarious social and political environments and conditions.

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Sydney Biennale 2016: big, brash and still grappling with refugees and migration Related Press Sydney Biennale 2016: big, brash and still grappling with refugees and migration The Sydney Morning Herald : 16 March 2016

Inside one of Carriageworks' vast railway workshops, a group of women painstakingly shift sand like archaeologists searching for ancient artefacts.But their treasure is not buried beneath the ground. Instead, they pour coloured sand into jagged shapes across the concrete floor to form artist Lee Mingwei's Guernica in Sand, a large-scale...

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Related Video

2016 artist interview series: Lee Bul Related Video & Audio 2016 artist interview series: Lee Bul Biennale of Sydney : 20 May 2016

Artist Lee Bul reveals her thinking and inspiration behind her site-specific installation at the Turbine Hall of the Industrial Precinct on Cockatoo Island, titled Willing To Be Vulnerable (2015–16) for the Embassy of the Real.

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