Korea University: World’s Legendary Artist Lee Ufan’s Work Displayed at Korea University Business School

On May 17, Korea University Business School (President Chung Jin Taek) held an installation ceremony for the work of the world-renowned artist 86-year-old Lee Ufan: “Relatum – The Location.”

With his philosophical painting of points and lines, Lee had a profound influence on Korean and Japanese contemporary art. This led him to become recognized as a world renowned master of art. His new work “Relatum” made of a 1.4-meter-tall natural stone and a mirror stainless steel plate 4 meters wide and 3 meters long was installed in the KU Business School campus.

In Lee’s “Relatum-The Location,” a man-made iron plate and a natural stone meet through the mediation of the artist and form a dialogue about the mutual ontological relatum. The work shows an ordinary lawn looking at an extraordinary universe with a space that opens up a new dimension.

It is said that prior to the production of his work Lee paid a visit to the main campus in the second half of last year and came up with his concept after contemplating for 4 to 5 months. It is rare for a university in Korea to propose and install an artwork by a world-famous master rather than a commemorative sculpture such as a statue.

Through this work, KU Business School aims to raise students’ social and artistic imaginations, thereby fostering their ability to develop socially-impactful new ideas and knowledge and become social leaders who can bring change to the world.

The installation ceremony of Lee’s work consisted of two parts: an academic event on Lee’s theory of art followed by an unveiling event of the work. The academic event devoted to “the life and art of Lee Ufan” was held through a lecture by Professor Lee Yong-woo, a chair professor at Tongji University in Shanghai, and a conversation with Seo Jin-seok, the director of the Ulsan Museum of Art.

In the first half of the installation event, Professor Lee Yong-woo said, “the idea was to create art reflecting our relationship with the universe by placing a mirror plate containing the universe and the sky on the lawn of the campus where our daily lives unfold.” He then continued to say that, “like with his other outdoor installations, Lee Ufan paid close attention to the horizontal and equitable relationship among his work, the space where the work is placed, and the viewers.”

Later, the unveiling ceremony was held after watching a video message sent by artist Lee Ufan in the presence of KU President Chung Jin Taek, Bae Johng-seok, the Dean of KU Business School, and Professor Lee Yong-woo.

In his video message, Lee explained, “My work this time is very bland and simple. A large stone is used. A stainless steel plate ground like a mirror was placed on the lawn with the large stone placed on top. However, this simple encounter and combination opens up a sustainable yet ordinary chapter in which a single sparkle, hardly noticeable in our daily life, becomes a cosmic moment.”

Lee continued to stress the importance of art by saying, “Artists neither have the power to prevent wars nor to make food, but we present opportunities for human beings to experience the feeling of being connected to nature from deep within, such as when observing beautiful flowers, seeing a cup that sparkles in the sunlight, or drinking cool water. The creation of art allows people to take time out for a moment and appreciate the nature of these feelings, and these moments create occasions when we can reflect upon the past and enrich our lives. In that sense, the relationship between human and art is inseparable.”

Lee, a living history of Korean contemporary art, has recently opened an exhibition center called the “Lee Ufan Arles” at the Hôtel de Vernon, France. As a leading figure who pioneered into spontaneous interpretations in the Mono-ha movement that defies image reproduction, Lee has been focusing on the horizontal and equitable relationship among his work, the space where the work is placed, and the viewers. His work is widely loved by many Korean and overseas audiences through his Relatum sculpture series.

Bae Johng-seok, the Dean of KU Business School, who supervised the installation of Lee’s work, said, “Relatum-The Location, which reflects the artist’s philosophy, fits well with the department’s essence of creating future values for enjoying a good life in the name of humanity. It will be a gift for students who will need to use their rich imaginations for promoting the good life of mankind. This work is Lee’s first attempt to install his art at a university. It is meaningful in that it will provide KU members and the general public with an artistic experience in an open space on the university campus.