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Ufan Lee

 (Born 1936)
Ufan Lee is active/lives in South Korea, Japan.  Ufan Lee is known for Minimalist painting and sculpture, teaching.

Ufan Lee

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Ufan Lee
Lee U-Fan (or Ou-Fan, or U-Hwan, born 1936) is a Korean born Japanese minimalist painter and sculptor and leader of the Japanese material school Monoha in the late 1960s.  Lee advocated a methodology of de-westernization and de-modernization in both theory and practice as an antidote to the Euro-centric thought of 1960s postwar Japanese society.

The Japanese avant-garde group Monoha was Japan's first contemporary art movement to gain international recognition. The Monoha school of thought rejected Western notions of representation, choosing to focus on the relationships of materials and perceptions rather than on expression or intervention. The movement's goal was to embrace the world at large and encourage the fluid coexistence of numerous beings, concepts, and experiences. Lee U-fan's position in the philosophy department a Nihon University in Tokyo earned him a distinguished role as the movement's spokesman.

His work was included in the 1992 Tate Liverpool exhibition, "Working With Nature: Traditional Thought in Contemporary Art from Korea", the first major survey of Korean art shown in Britain.

His work is held in the permanent collection of the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art.

He taught at Tama Art University (TOKYO).  Yoshio Itagaki was one of his students in 1989-1991.


Biography from Bonhams Hong Kong
Born in 1936, Lee received formal training during the height of the Korean War, studying at the College of Fine Arts in Seoul in 1956, and moved to Japan shortly after to complete his studies in Philosophy at Nihon University. Having lived in France, Japan, and Korea, Lee has exhibited extensively throughout his career, including a monumental retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2011.

A philosopher as well as an artist, Lee published leading articles on aesthetics and contemporary art that are fundamentally driven by a desire for spiritual reconciliation amidst political unrest in the region. He is an influential figure of Dansaekwa ("monochrome" painting) in Korea, and a key-theorist of the Mono-Ha movement ("The School of Things") in Japan, which are two of the most important post-war art developments in Asia.

In his works, Lee emphasizes the concept of "onceness," relativity between medium, materials and space, viewing his creative process as a meditative act of self-cultivation. In 1980, Lee moved to Kamakura, Japan with his family. He developed a new painting practice "From Winds" and "With Winds." These series are characterized by a shift away from systematic application of paint in precise points and lines towards a free application of vibrant brushstrokes.

The shift in style was ultimately a result of 'a great internal rupture" that Lee experienced in 1978, which influenced him to disrupt the regimentation of his earlier compositional structure. An apparent difference during this shift is the increase of gaps and empty space surrounding each line, in which each line meets the next as a symbol of free and gradual acceptance as a whole.

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About  Ufan Lee

Born:  1936 - Korea
Known for:  Minimalist painting and sculpture, teaching