Expositions : Lee Bul, 10 septembre – 9 novembre 2014
10 September — 9 November 2014
Ikon Gallery, Birmingham
Ikon presents the first UK solo show of works by Korean artist Lee Bul. This survey of early drawings, studies, sculptural pieces and ambitious installations – including a new commission made especially for Ikon – showcases the visually compelling and intellectually sharp works which have established Lee Bul as one of the most important artists of her generation.
Born in 1964, under the military dictatorship of South Korea, Lee Bul graduated in sculpture from Hongik University during the late 1980s. Her works became preoccupied with politics, delving into the many forms of idealism that permeate our civilisations, and from the beginning she created works that crossed genres and disciplines in provocative ways. Early street performance-based pieces saw Lee Bul wearing full-body soft sculptures which were both alluring and grotesque. Her later female Cyborg sculptures of the 1990s drew upon art history, critical theory, science fiction and popular imagination to explore anxieties arising out of dysfunctional technological advances, whilst simultaneously harking back to icons of classical sculpture.
Lee Bul’s more recent works have similarly dual concerns; at once forward-looking yet retrospective, seductive but suggestive of ruin. Sculptures suspended like chandeliers, elaborate assemblages that glimmer with crystal beads, chains and mirrors, poignantly evoke castles in the air. The sculptures reflect utopian architectural schemes of the early twentieth century as well as images of totalitarianism from Lee Bul’s early experiences. Mon grand récit: Weep into stones … (2005), with its mountainous topography is reminiscent of skyscrapers described by Hugh Ferriss in his book The Metropolis of Tomorrow (1929). Scaffolding supports several scale model structures: a looping highway made of bent plywood, a tiny Tatlin’s Monument, a modernist staircase that features in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and an upturned cross-section of the Hagia Sofia.
Alongside these seminal works is a new commission made possible through the Art Fund International scheme in collaboration with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and The New Art Gallery Walsall. After Bruno Taut (Devotion to Drift) alludes to the architect Bruno Taut (1880–1938), a great influence on Lee Bul’s works. The suspended sculpture, dripping with an excess of crystalline shapes and glass beads, references the exponential growth and unsustainability of the modern world. Unlike Taut’s early twentieth century optimism, Lee Bul conjures up beautiful dreams she knows won’t come true.
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1 Oozells Square, Brindleyplace,
Birmingham, B1 2HS
tel. +44 (0) 121 248 0708
The Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCC)-Artist of the Year:
13 September -1 November 2014
To coincide with IKON gallery’s first UK solo show of Lee Bul, the Korean Cultural Centre UK showcases the visually compelling Diluvium (2014). This work, with its steel frames covered by irregularly angled wooden structures has been reconstructed specifically for this exhibition and venue. The mirror-effect vinyl surrounding these structures in turn erases the sense of space by creating an endless realm of reflection and deflection. What is supposed to be a smooth surface of the a white-cube is thus transformed into a rabbit-hole through which the audience can encounter the captivating world of Lee Bul.