Lee Bul (Korean: 이불; 李昢; born 1964) is a South Korean artist who works in various mediums, including performance, sculpture, installation, architecture, printmaking, and media art. Lives and works in Seoul, Lee's work has extended from the late 1980s to the present.

Lee Bul
Mon Grand Recit: Weep into Stones (2005)
EducationHongik University

As curators such as Stephanie Rosenthal and art historians such as Yeon Shim Chung have observed, Lee Bul's artwork is shaped by both her social-political context and her personal experiences.[1]

Biography edit

Lee Bul was born on January 25, 1964, in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea. Raised by politically active parents while her country was under the rule of Park Chung Hee, Lee as a child witnessed a dramatically changing society from its margins, where she and her family repeatedly uprooted and relocated.[1] After receiving B. F. A. in sculpture[2] from Hongik University, Seoul, in 1987, Lee she was briefly involved in the Museum Group,[1] alongside artists such as Choi Jeong Hwa. Although she has figured among "New Generation" artists (also called the "3-8-6" generation, with the 3 referring to a generation, born in the 1960s, who went to university in the 1980s), the art historian Yeon Shim Chung has argued that Lee's artistic trajectory diverged at an early stage away from the oft-travelled artistic routes of her time.[1]

As Lee embarked on her own independent artistic practice, she pivoted sharply away from the cold, hard materials that founded her training in sculpture (namely, wood, stone, and metal).[1] For her early performances in the 1990s, Yi Bul made sculptural creations made of fabric that connoted fleshy appendages and monstrously fantastical animals—and then wore them, and took to the streets of cities such as Seoul and Tokyo.

Lee received an initial wave of wide recognition for her Majestic Splendor series (1991), which were installations of decomposing fish decorated with sequins within clear Mylar bags that explored themes of beauty, vulnerability, decay and dread.[3] A prolific material of Korea's textile industry, sequins connoted personal associations for Lee; her mother worked from home to craft bags and other accessories,[1][4] which surrounded Lee throughout her childhood.

Work edit

I Need You (Monument) edit

From 1996 and 1999, Lee completed three mixed media installations that incorporate photographs of the artist with large scale inflatable forms. One of these installations, titled I Need You (Monument) (1996), features a swelling, phallic object with a photograph of an orientalize and lingerie-clad Lee on the front. Beneath the mass lies an array of pedals for viewers to further aerate the object. Notable is Lee's juxtaposition of title and medium, which contrasts the vulnerability of inflatables with futile attempts to transcend history.[5]

Majestic Splendor edit

A work that has been exhibited globally across multiple iterations, Lee first presented Majestic Splendor in 1991 in Seoul. Majestic Splendor features several real dead fish that are decorated with sequins, beads, and other small, sparkly items. They are placed in plastic bags and pinned to the wall of the gallery in a grid pattern. Over the course of the exhibition, the work emits a putrid odor. In 1997, during the Projects showing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Majestic Splendor had to be removed because of its stench. After this Lee began using potassium permanganate, which is combustible, to help neutralize the smell.

Cyborg series edit

Lee Bul's Cyborg series (1997-2000) was first exhibited at the Artsonje Center in Seoul, Korea in 1998. Its techno-anthropomorphic bodies did not have a distinct biological gender, but seemed to possess female, hourglass shapes. A monster, titled Monster: Black (1998), a pile of excrement with multiple tentacles stands between them, which serves as a seven-foot tidal wave that towers over the sleek figures. Human and machine forms merge to give birth to a third. Female accentuated and idealized forms in ancient Greek culture, sexual charge of Japanese manga. Simultaneously well-proportioned, sensuous, and fragmented, the Cyborg works rose as symbols of human imperfection, despite the biological and cyber nature to transcend physical and mental limitations.[6] The cyborgs, W1-W4, for instance, are four white figures hang from the ceiling, casting ghostly shadows. The headless, one-armed and one-legged figures are provocatively sexualized, with waists, breasts and buttocks accentuated by the armor-like corsets that don them. Lee has stated, "There's a very strange, ambivalent mixture of nostalgia for an impossible purity... and a dread of uncontrollable and potentially destructive sexual energy and power sublimated into the forms of machines.” [7] Merging human and machine boundaries, the cyborg invokes the human experience induced by technological object and artist.[8]

Lee Bul's cyborgs represent tropes for fear and fascination with "the uncategorizable, the uncanny,” in her words.[8] Although her cyborgs stick to a coherent form in Amaryllis (1999), Supernova and Crysallis (2000), they have a disconnect from the viewer for their paradoxical characteristics: “male and female,” “glorious and sinister,” “familiar and alien,” “grotesque and strangely seductive.” [8]

Other activities edit

In 1998, Lee was selected as one of six shortlisted artists, including Huang Yong Ping, William Kentridge, Pipilotti Rist, Lorna Simpson and the eventual winner, Douglas Gordon, for the Hugo Boss Prize.[9]

In 2014, Lee won the Noon Award at Gwangju Biennale.[10][11]

Exhibitions edit

Lee has had solo exhibitions worldwide including Live Forever which toured the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and The Power Plant in Toronto. She was selected as a finalist for the 1998 Hugo Boss Prize by the Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Other museums that have presented exhibitions of her work include Fondation Cartier, Paris;[12] Domus Artium, Salamanca; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Japan Foundation, Tokyo; MAC, Musée d'Art Contemporain, Marseille; Le Consortium;[13] Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia;[14] Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.[15]

Her two-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, was titled Projects 57, Bul Lee, Matsui Chie was held in 1996. Bul Lee and Matsui Chie were presented as avant-garde female artists who were using installation art to challenge social norms.[16]

In March 2010, the Hara Museum ARC unveiled a permanent installation by Lee Bul entitled A Fragmentary Anatomy of Every Setting Sun. In February 2012, Tokyo's Mori Art Museum mounted a mid-career survey exhibition, the artist's largest exhibition to date.[17]

The Southbank Centres newly reopened Hayward Gallery hosted a survey of Lee's artists work beginning at the end of May 2018, her first in London; which explores the artist's extensive investigation into the body and its relationship to architectural space. Occupying the entire gallery, this exhibition includes documentation of early performances, sculptural works from the iconic Monster, Cyborg and Anagram series and recent immersive installations, as well as a selection of the artist's studio drawings.[18][19]

In November 2020, an exhibition of the artist's work opened at St. Petersburg's Manege Central Exhibition Hall, 'marking a first-time encounter between Lee Bul's works and those by artists of the Russian avant-garde that influenced them.'[20]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) in New York announced in November 2023 that four new sculptures by Lee will be installed at its façade. Titled The Facade Commission: Lee Bul, the commission represents Lee's first major project in the United States since her 2002 solo exhibition at the New Museum.[21] The works will be on view from 12 September in 2024 to 27 May 2025.[22]

Solo exhibitions edit

Year[23] Title Gallery Location
1988 IL Gallery Seoul, South Korea
1994 Unforgiven A Space Toronto
1997 Projects Museum of Modern Art New York, NY
1998 Artsonje Center Seoul, South Korea
1999 Korean Pavilion, 48th Venice Biannale* Venice, Italy
Kunsthalle Bern Bern, Switzerland
2000 Fukuoka Asian Art Museum Fukuoka, Japan
Kukje Gallery Seoul, South Korea
2001 Fabric Workshop and Museum Philadelphia, PA
SCAI the Bathhouse Tokyo, Japan
San Francisco Art Institute San Francisco, CA
BAWAG Foundation Vienna, Australia
2002 The Power Plant Toronto, Canada
MAC, Galeries Contemporaines des Musées de Marseille Marseille, France
Jean Paul Slusser Gallery, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI
Live Forever New Museum of Contemporary Art New York, NY
Le Consortium centre d'art contemporain Dijon, France
PKM Gallery Seoul, South Korea
Rodin Gallery, Samsung Museum of Art Seoul, South Korea
Orange County Museum of Art Newport Beach, CA
2003 Henry Art Gallery Seattle, WA
Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, Scotland
Ohara Museum of Art Kurashiki, Japan
The Japan Foundation Tokyo, Japan
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Scottsdale, AZ
2004 Museum of Contemporary Art Australia Sydney, Australia
PKM Gallery Seoul, South Korea
Deitch Projects Ney York, NY
2005 SCAI the Bathhouse Tokyo, Japan
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery New Plymouth, New Zealand
2007 Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain Paris, France
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Salzburg, Austria
PKM Gallery Seoul, South Korea
Domus Artium 2002 Salamanca, Spain
2008 PKM Gallery Seoul, South Korea
Lehmann Maupin New York, NY
2009 Paintings and Drawings Gallery Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris, France
2010 PKM Trinity Gallery Seoul, South Korea
Lehmann Maupin New York, NY
2011 Countdown Culture Station Seoul Seoul, South Korea
2011 Space Study PLATEAU (former Rodin Gallery) Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea
2011 Mori Art Museum Tokyo, Japan
2012 Artsonje Center Seoul, South Korea
From me, belongs to you only Mori Art Museum Tokyo, Japan
2013 MUDAM - Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean Luxembourg
Pure Invisible Sun Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris, France
Inaugural Hong Kong Enhibition Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong
2014 Korean Cultural Centre London, United Kingdom
MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2014: Lee Bul National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Seoul, South Korea
Lehmann Maupin New York, NY
Ikon Gallery Bermingham, United Kingdom
2015 Lee Bul Vancouver Art Gallery Vancouver, Canada
Lee Bul: Aubade III Palais de Tokyo Paris, France
Lee Bul PKM Gallery Seoul, South Korea
Espai d'art contemporani de Castelló Castelló, Spain
Into Lattice Sun Swarovski Crystal Worlds Innsbrusk, Astria
Musée d’art modern de Saint-Etienne Saint-Priest-en-Jarez, France
2016 Lee Bul Artsonje Center Seoul, South Korea
2017 After Bruno Taut Thaddeus Ropac London, United Kingdom
Lehmann Maupin Ney York, NY
2018 Lee Bul: Crash Martin Gropius-Bau Berlin, Germany
Lee Bul: Crashing Hayward Gallery London, United Kingdom
2019 Interlude: Perdu Lehmann Maupin New York, NY
City of the Sun SCAD Museum of Art Savannah, GA

*denotes a two-person show

Recognition and awards edit

Year Award Result
1998 Hugo Boss Prize Nominated[24][25]
1999 48th Venice Biennale Art Exhibition Honorable Mention[26][27][28]
2002 13th Korea Seok ju Art Prize
2014 10th Korea Gwangiu Biennale, the Noon Award Won[26]
2016 Medal of Merit for Culture and Art Won[29]
2019 Ho-Am Prize in the Arts Won[30]

Market edit

Lee's works have been broadly exposed in art fairs around the world. In the recent STPI show in Singapore in 2023,[31] the organiser presented the artist's solo exhibition, Lee Bul: Prints, curated by Xiaoyu Weng.[32] Over 60 works across five new series were mounted by STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery.

In 2019 at Art Basel Hong Kong, Lee presented a new version of her replica Zeppelin "Willing To Be Vulnerable - Metalized Balloon" (2019) exhibited in 2018 in Hayward Gallery in London.[33]

Lee's works have been sold at auctions, and the artist is represented by Lehmann Maupin and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac respectively.[34]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f Yi, Pul (2018). Rosenthal, Stephanie (ed.). Lee Bul. Michaël J. Amy, Hayward Gallery, Martin-Gropius-Bau. London: Hayward Gallery Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85332-353-9.
  2. ^ "Lee Bul". The Guggenheim Museums and Foundation. Retrieved 2024-03-02.
  3. ^ Horlyck, Charlotte. “Contesting Form and Content: Art of the 1990s and 2000s.” In Korean Art: From the 19th Century to the Present, 165–77. London: Reaktion Books, 2017.
  4. ^ Chung, Joon Mo. “Lee Bul: Naturally Provokes a Sense of Unease.” Koreana 23, no. 1 (2000): 64-67.
  5. ^ Amy, Michael. "Lee Bul: Phantasmic Morphologies". Lehmann Maupin. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  6. ^ Amy, Michael. “ Lee Bul: Phantasmic Morphologies.” Sculpture 30, no. 4 (May 2011): 20- 27.
  7. ^ Volkart, Yvonne. “ This Monstrosity, This Proliferation {Sic}, Once Upon a Time Called Woman, Butterfly, Asian Girl.” MAKE Magazine 8 (September 2000): 4-7.
  8. ^ a b c Murray, Soraya. “Cybernated Aesthetics: Lee Bul and the Body Transfigured.” PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 30, no. 2 (2008): 38–50. https://doi.org/10.1162/pajj.2008.30.2.38.
  9. ^ Carol Vogel (31 July 1998), Boss Prize To a Scot New York Times.
  10. ^ https://www.gwangjubiennale.org/en/Board/8446/detailView.do
  11. ^ https://www.artnet.com/artists/lee-bul/biography
  12. ^ Fondation Cartier, Paris
  13. ^ Le Consortium
  14. ^ Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia
  15. ^ Museum of Modern Art, New York
  16. ^ Lee, Bul (14 March 2023). "Project 57: Bul Lee, Chie Matsui: the Museum of Modern Art, January 23,-March 25, 1997" (PDF). MoMA. Archived (PDF) from the original on 14 March 2023. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  17. ^ the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
  18. ^ "Lee Bul | Southbank Centre". Archived from the original on 2018-05-07.
  19. ^ Lee Bul: beauty and horror, Southbank Centre
  20. ^ "Lee Bul's Utopian Encounters with the Russian Avantgarde". ocula.com. 2020-11-25. Retrieved 2020-11-25.
  21. ^ Small, Zachary (2023-11-29). "Met Announces 2024 Art Commissions, Including Lee Bul, Sculptor of Cyborgs". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2024-03-10.
  22. ^ "The Facade Commission: Lee Bul". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 2024-03-10.
  23. ^ "LEE BUL EDUCATION 1987". Lehmann Maupin.
  24. ^ "Guggenheim Announces Short List for Hugo Boss Prize 2018". Guggenheim. 2017-12-13. Retrieved 2020-05-16.
  25. ^ Guggenheim Museum Soho (1998). The Hugo Boss Prize, 1998 : [Douglas Gordon, Huang Yong Ping, William Kentridge, Lee Bul, Pililotti Rist, Lorna Simpson]. New York : Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. ISBN 9780892072101.
  26. ^ a b "- Lee Bul - Exhibitions - Lehmann Maupin". www.lehmannmaupin.com. Retrieved 2020-05-16.
  27. ^ Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, Lee Bul, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, 2005
  28. ^ "FORMER WEST – 48th Venice Biennale". Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  29. ^ "이불 설치미술가, 문화예술공로훈장 수훈 (2016년 10월 7일)". La France en Corée - Ambassade de France à Séoul (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  30. ^ "Lee Bul - Artists - Lehmann Maupin". www.lehmannmaupin.com. Retrieved 2020-05-16.
  31. ^ Helmi Yusof, Helmi Yusof (9 November 2023). "Lee Bul at STPI: Crafting dreamscapes and dystopias".
  32. ^ https://artandmarket.net/dialogues/2023/11/10/conversation-with-curator-xiaoyu-weng
  33. ^ Gareth Harris, Gareth Harris (22 March 2019). "Meet the artists exhibiting at Encounters, Art Basel Hong Kong".
  34. ^ https://www.artnet.com/artists/lee-bul/dealers

External links edit