For the 58th Venice Biennale opening Saturday, May 11, Lehmann Maupin is pleased to announce that two of its artists, Lee Bul, of Korea, and Liu Wei, of China, will each present two major sculptural works selected for the Ralph Rugoff-curated exhibition, May You Live In Interesting Times. Lee Bul was previously featured in the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, where she received an honorable mention for her presentations in the Korean Pavilion and the international exhibition curated by Harald Szeemann. Liu Wei also previously participated in the Biennale, exhibiting in the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005.
Lee Bul will unveil Aubade V (2019), located in the Arsenal. This large-scale sculpture, measuring 400 by 300 cm (over 13 by 9 feet), is the most recent iteration of the artist’s well-known Aubade series, which weaves historical narrative with utopian ideals and surreal, futuristic forms. For Aubade V, which takes the form of a futuristic tower, Lee Bul has sourced repurposed steel from buildings located in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. Constructed using a mathematically rigorous design, the tower appears differently depending on the angle from which it is being viewed. During the run of the exhibition, the sculpture will broadcast LED signage that references Morse Code and the International Code of Signals, both systems that communicate important messages of safety or distress. With Aubade V, Lee Bul explores the ideology of utopia, while also acknowledging its tenuous nature and historic precedence.
Also included in the Arsenal is Liu Wei’s Microworld (2018), recently exhibited in the group exhibition, Entropy, at the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen. This sculptural installation, composed of various aluminum spheres and colorful convex and concave shapes, reflects the artist’s long standing interest in how one’s perception is adapted and manipulated by social, environmental, technological, and personal influences. Both the work’s title and molecular-like forms speak to the uniquely human ability to imagine and comprehend things that we are not physically able to see, while also emphasizing the grandiose nature of the world in relation to the individual. For Liu Wei, this work cannot exist simply as a sculptural structure, but rather is activated by the presence and physical interaction of the viewer.
Lee Bul’s Scale of Tongue (2017-18) will be included in the Central Pavilion, and was recently featured in her museum retrospective Lee Bul: Crashing, which premiered at the Hayward Gallery in London and traveled to Gropius-Bau in Berlin. The sculpture’s form is identifiable as a capsized ship sinking into cascading, water like fabric, and makes reference to the infamous Sewol ferry boat accident, which sunk in South Korea in 2014 with hundreds on-board. Epic disasters of mass transportation are a recurring theme of Lee Bul’s, used to explore issues of modernity and human fragility, with this more historically recent incident again paying careful attention to her home country.
Liu Wei’s Devourment (2019), which the artist created specifically for the Biennale, will be featured in the Giardini. Well positioned in the garden’s natural setting, Liu Wei transforms our traditional understanding of the genre of landscape through the careful selection of materials and simplified forms, colors, and textures that each allude to the complexity of our surroundings. Each material element of Devourment interprets an aspect of our idea of landscape, with the rock and green materials for earth, the incorporation of blue for water, and the aluminum sculptural elements evoking urban civilization that has matured into an equal, if not overwhelming element on our planet.
Liu Wei will concurrently be featured in the Faurschou Foundation’s Venice Biennale exhibition, Entropy, May 10–September 1, 2019 located on San Giorgio Maggiore Island.
About the artists
Lee Bul (b. 1964, Yeongju; lives and works in Seoul) received a BFA in sculpture from Hongik University, Seoul, in 1987. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2019); Hayward Gallery, London (2018); Gropius-BauArt, Berlin (2018); Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2016 and 2012); Vancouver Art Gallery, (2015); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2014); Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg (2013); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012); Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2007); The Power Plant, Toronto (2002); New Museum, New York (2002); and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1997). Her work has been included in important group exhibitions and biennials such as Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial (2018); The Future is already here –it’s just not very evenly distributed, 20th Biennale of Sydney (2016); Storylines, the Guggenheim, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015); Making Traces, Tate Modern, London (2018); Burning Down the House, 10th Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, Korea (2014); Prospect 1: A Biennial for New Orleans, New Orleans, LA (2008); Global Feminisms, Brooklyn Museum of Art (2007); Not Only Possible, But Also Necessary: Optimism in the Age of Global War, 10th International Istanbul Biennial (2007); and dAPERTutto, 48th Venice Biennale (1999).
Liu Wei (b. 1972, and lives and works in Beijing, China) graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou, China in 1996. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH (forthcoming); Faurschou Foundation, Copenhagen (2018); Long March Space, Beijing (2018); at the PLATEAU, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2016); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2015); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2014); and Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2011). He has participated in several international biennials and notable group exhibitions including What About Art? Contemporary Art from China, Qatar Museum, Doha (2016); Bentu, Chinese artists at a time of turbulence and transformation, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2016); La vie Moderne, La Biennale de Lyon (2015); 28 Chinese, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (2015), San Antonio Museum of Art, TX (2015), Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2013); Re:emerge: Towards a New Cultural Cartography, Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013); 4th Guangzhou Triennial, China (2012), Rehearsal, Shanghai Biennale (2010); Expenditure, Busan Biennale, South Korea (2008); and the 51st Venice Biennale (2005).