Lehmann Maupin is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Lee Bul. Widely recognized as one of the leading Korean artists of her generation, Lee will present an installation of sculptural works, along with related studies and drawings, comprising a wide range of materials, visual elements, and references. This is Lee Bul's debut exhibition with the gallery.
Anchoring the exhibition is a large, grotto-like sculpture entitled Bunker – M. Bakhtin. The work invites visitors inside to experience what the artist describes as a "sonic simulacrum" of architectural spaces and landscapes; interwoven is a layered narrative of modernity and historical memory emerging from the complex relationship between Korea and Japan in the 20th century. Situated within a mirrored environment that is at once brilliant and disorienting, Bunker – M. Bakhtin is paired with an obsessively intricate structure made of glass, crystals, and aluminum suspended in midair—an homage to the visionary Weimar architect Bruno Taut, whose "peculiar fusion of futurist fantasia, utopian manifesto, and private obsessions," in the artist's words, seems to preside over the exhibition as a whole. Other works in the exhibition include wall pieces and a gridded platform on the floor making use of two-way mirrors to create the illusion of fragmentary architectural structures repeating and receding into infinite space.
Intellectually provocative and formally sensuous, Lee Bul's work plays on the engagement with, and sometimes confrontation between, traditional aesthetics and modern artistic aspirations, with unorthodox results. Early in her career, Lee departed from her academic training in sculpture to create works that were often performative, drawing on both personal and collective experience to explore questions regarding the representation of the human body. Over the past two decades her art has evolved to encompass a diverse set of themes and concerns. As in her recent solo exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris, the works in this show continue her engagement with the fractured tropes and narratives of utopian modernity, in particular what she sees as the "melancholic traces of the collapse and disintegration of progressivist projects to reinvent the world."
Born in Seoul in 1964, Lee Bul has been featured in solo exhibitions throughout the world, including the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris (2007); Domus Artium, Salamanca (2007); Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2004); Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow (2003); The Power Plant, Toronto (2002); MAC, Galeries Contemporaines des Musées de Marseille (2002); and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2002). In 1999 she was awarded a prize at the 48th Venice Biennale for her contribution to both the Korean Pavilion and the international exhibition in the Arsenale curated by Harald Szeemann. She was a finalist for the 1998 Hugo Boss Prize. In 1997, the Museum of Modern Art commissioned the artist to create her signature installation of decomposing fish adorned with sequins for the museum's Projects gallery. The exhibition was brought to a premature close, however, amid controversy over the work's inescapable olfactory component.