Ocula MagazineContentsView All
Featured ContentView All
LACMA Explores the Allure of Matter Ocula Report LACMA Explores the Allure of Matter 14 Jun 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (2 June 2019–5 January 2020) is an inter-generational show of 21 Chinese artists working from the 1980s to the present, including Ai Weiwei, Cai Guo-Qiang, Lin Tianmiao, Song Dong, He Xiangyu, Yin Xiuzhen, and Ma Qiusha.Staged on Level 2 of LACMA's Renzo...

Read More
Thomas J Price: Reframing Classical Sculpture Ocula Conversation Thomas J Price: Reframing Classical Sculpture

When the London-born artist Thomas J Price graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Arts in 2004, the school's college art prize was by no means his most notable accomplishment as an emerging artist. In 2001, Price presented his much-talked-about work Licked, a daring performance, later profiled on the BBC 4 television...

Read More
Art Basel Lowdown: Shows to See Ocula Report Art Basel Lowdown: Shows to See 6 Jun 2019 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

To coincide with Art Basel 2019, which opens to the public from 13 to 16 June, galleries and institutions across the city are presenting a range of stellar exhibitions. From Rebecca Horn at Museum Tinguely to Geumhyung Jeong at Kunsthalle Basel, here is a selection of what to see.William Kentridge, Dead Remus (2014–2016). Charcoal on found ledger...

Read More

Lee Bul

b. 1964, South Korea

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
Read More

Featured Artworks

View All (43)
Perdu XV - W1, Perdu XV - W2, Perdu XV - W3 by Lee Bul contemporary artwork
Lee BulPerdu XV - W1, Perdu XV - W2, Perdu XV - W3, 2018 Mother of pearl pigment, acrylic paint on lacquered wood panel, and steel frame
123.3 x 276.9 x 6.6 cm
Lehmann Maupin
Untitled ("Infinity Wall") by Lee Bul contemporary artwork
Lee BulUntitled ("Infinity Wall"), 2019 Wood, two-way glass mirror, glass mirror, LED, aluminum, cast polyurethane and acrylic paint triptych
190 x 270 x 17.5 cm
PKM Gallery
Untitled (Pantoscopic Sculpture II) by Lee Bul contemporary artwork
Lee BulUntitled (Pantoscopic Sculpture II), 2009 Acrylic on board
32 x 40 cm
PKM Gallery
Untitled (Pantoscopic Sculpture I) by Lee Bul contemporary artwork
Lee BulUntitled (Pantoscopic Sculpture I), 2009 Acrylic on board
32 x 40 cm
PKM Gallery
Untitled (Anagram Leather #5) by Lee Bul contemporary artwork
Lee BulUntitled (Anagram Leather #5), 2004/2017 Leather covered hand-cut polyurethane panels on aluminum armature, stainless steel, stainless steel wire
43 x 57 x 33 cm
PKM Gallery
Willing To Be Vulnerable - Metalized
Balloon by Lee Bul contemporary artwork
Lee BulWilling To Be Vulnerable - Metalized Balloon, 2015-2016 Metalized film, transparent film, air blower, approximately
PKM Gallery
Willing to be Vulnerable by Lee Bul contemporary artwork
Lee BulWilling to be Vulnerable, 2015/2019 Site-specific installation of heavy-duty fabric, metalised film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, and electronic wiring
Lehmann Maupin
Perdu XXI by Lee Bul contemporary artwork
Lee BulPerdu XXI, 2019 Mother of pearl pigment and acrylic paint on lacquered wood base panel with steel frame
163.3 x 113.3 x 6.6 cm
Lehmann Maupin

Recent Exhibitions

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

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

View All (7)
Art Basel in Hong Kong 2019: A Post-mortem Ocula Report Art Basel in Hong Kong 2019: A Post-mortem 6 Apr 2019 : Diana d’Arenberg for Ocula

Although Art Basel in Hong Kong is the youngest of the Art Basel fairs, and a relative newcomer to the international art fair circuit, it has now become a major attraction for collectors and galleries from around the world. The seventh edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong saw thousands of art courtesans and benefactors kick off the week with a string...

Read More
EVA International: Ireland’s Biennial Talks About Power Ocula Report EVA International: Ireland’s Biennial Talks About Power 6 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...

Read More
Gwangju Biennale: Burning Down The House Ocula Report Gwangju Biennale: Burning Down The House 4 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...

Read More
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...

Read More

In Related Press

View All (10)
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
Floating cyborgs and a mutant octopus … the grotesque, gorgeous art of Lee Bul Related Press Floating cyborgs and a mutant octopus … the grotesque, gorgeous art of Lee Bul The Guardian : 28 May 2018

Lee Bul's earliest memories are defined by dust. In a military town outside Seoul, where she lived aged 11, many of the trees had been cut down for fuel, while, under the dictator Park Chung-Hee's modernisation programme, new roads were begun and abandoned. The inhabitants of her neighbourhood's cheap and fragile houses came and went: soldiers,...

Read More
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.

Read More

In 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.

More

Be among the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by Lee Bul are added to Ocula.

WeChat

Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

iCal GoogleYahooOutlook