The art of the perfect fit

Review: Lee Bul at the Hayward Gallery

Posted by D.R.A.W in Featured · July 2018

An exhibition worth seeing, especially for Lee Bul’s dexterity in combining deformity and plain horror with elegance and excellent craftmanship and make them integral to every piece she produces.

We were recently discussing the importance of the links between museums and exhibited artists in our review of Rodin at the British Museum. We find this show is even more significant as Lee Bul is not only still alive, but has also worked with the curatorial team to make the most of the existing space, originally designed in the Sixties by a team of architects led by Norman Engleback (some of whom went on to founding the collective Archigram, hugely admired by Lee Bul). The result of this cooperation, which saw the artist dropping all partition walls in favour of the usage the original wall space, has been summarised as “the artist treats the Hayward Gallery […] not as a backdrop but as a collaborator”.

Lee Bul’s recent work is an investigation into landscape (mainly a twisted version to reflect utopianism and the failures derived from humanity’s strive for perfection), but the journey for her began in the late 1980’s in a more sculptural tone, with three dimensional costumes becoming integral parts of her street performances, merging her training (she holds a degree in Sculpture) with her passion for theatre. The latter unveiled the ‘limitations of sculpture’ to her, bringing a more temporal element to her work.

The exhibition features her drawings as well, which are something Bul doesn’t often choose to show as they represent a more personal reflection, which often leads to the main idea for a piece but substantially is aimed at remaining something more private than your average artist study. Apart from the visual appeal these drawings have, they also contain the same combination of ‘unusual’ materials that her bigger scale works are made of, a mix of man-made and natural. As overtly displayed in her early soft sculptures, Lee Bul is fascinated by the vulnerability of our corporeal experience, often translated in multiple soft limbs coming out from all angles, seemingly fitting with her fascination with material which ‘come from inside out’ like silk and mother of pearl.

Other pieces touch upon South Korea’s past and present events (like Bunker, which merges her own childhood memories to Yi Gu, the grandson of the last Emperor of Korea or Thaw, where a sculpture of Park Chung-Hee, the former President of South Korea, is crystallised in a fibreglass block of ‘ice’), linking the artist’s personal journey to her country’s history.

An exhibition worth seeing, especially for Lee Bul’s dexterity in combining deformity and plain horror with elegance and excellent craftmanship and make them integral to every piece she produces. Sadly, the context of many works is lost in translation, as it refers to events not commonly known to the average Westerner who may not have visited the country before/be familiar with its history. It is said that art should be universal, but context unlocks many meanings and, in case of works touching the brain more than the heart (as for Lee Bul’s), unreadability is more of a frustration than a deliberate element of a work’s voice.

 

Lee Bul: Crashing, can be viewed at the Hayward Gallery until 19 August 2018.

Notes from DRAW · 09.07.2018

Read More

Working in the Arts: Nick Hall

This week for our ongoing Working in the Arts profile, we talk to Nick Hall who is Director – Head of Fine Art at Henry Adam’s Fine Art Auctioneers in Chichester, West Sussex. So, where do you work? I work at Henry Adams Fine Art Auctioneers in Chichester, West Sussex, as well as a BBC…

Spotlight on: Venice, Italy

With the Venice Biennale now in full swing we are shining a spotlight on Venice this month. This 60th anniversary edition, this year curated by Adriano Pedrosa is titled Foreigners Everywhere and is a must see for art lovers far and wide. The historic tourist destination is brimming with…

Working in the Arts: Sarah Arnett Ordaz

Continuing our focus on the US, for this week’s Working in the Arts segment we spoke with Sarah Arnett Ordaz who is the Gallery Manager at Lisson, New York. So, where do you work? I work at Lisson Gallery, in our New York office. What is your job title? Gallery Manager – though this title…

Unlocking Success: The Numerous Benefits of Utilising Temporary Workers in the…

In today’s dynamic and fast-paced business environment, our clients are constantly seeking innovative ways to stay agile, efficient, and competitive. One workforce strategy that has gained significant traction in the art world is the use of temporary workers. Whether it’s seasonal…