Lee Ufan Museum – Starting from a Point, Moving Along the Line , Naoshima Travel.

 
We find interest in a piece of art because of resonance and encounters 

Lee U-fan 

A vast field adorned with stones, metal, and glass, this is the sculptural work of Lee Ufan, the proponent of ‘Mono-ha’ art and the Korean ‘Dansaekhwa’ (monochrome painting) movement.

Photo: Tadasu Yamamoto, Courtesy of Naoshima Fukutake Art Museum Foundation 

 

In the ‘Pole Place’ area, the ‘stone’ is simply a natural stone, an embodiment of pure artistic thought. This reminds me of the famous Japanese author Ryu Murakami’s novel ’69.’ The protagonist, Kensuke Yazaki, orchestrates a campus revolution, uniting everyone to sneak into the school at dawn and hang a huge white banner from the roof. With striking blue paint, they declare a challenge to the traditional system: “Let imagination rule!”

Descending the entrance stairs, walking between concrete walls and pine trees, the geometric architecture transforms the tree shadows into geometric shapes. Arriving at a vast field, contrasting with the ‘Chichu Art Museum,’ this place feels more like an open ‘Seaside Park.’ The ‘chestnut-colored boulder’ and ‘grey-white pillars’ echo in this expansive space, striving to transcend impressions to become dots, lines, and planes in nature.

The concept originates from a rainbow Lee Ufan observed in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. The minimalist style involves natural stone clamped with stainless steel, resembling a giant pair of headphones standing by the coast. The mirror-finish metal encircles, reflecting natural light and casting reflections of each visitor, their movements, and their coordinates. This avant-garde sensation, along with the mountains and sea of Kagawa Prefecture, evokes Ryuichi Sakamoto’s music from his Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) generation , immersing us in a moment both rational and vibrant.

The installation art piece “Ports vers I’nfini” was exhibited at the Palace of Versailles in France in 2014 and has been permanently displayed at the Lee Ufan Museum in Naoshima since 2019.

The Lee Ufan Museum, designed by Tadao Ando, is the first personal museum built for Lee Ufan. It harmonizes natural light with the shadows and Mono-ha art, permeated with Japanese Wabi-sabi aesthetics. The museum exemplifies the Benesse Art Site Naoshima’s exploration of the relationship between human spaces and nature. The architecture integrates seamlessly with the landscape, partly submerged in the land of Naoshima and partly embracing the valleys and coast, making it a sustainable museum coexisting with the island.

 《從線開始》From Line 

Observing these lines on the canvas, I am reminded of rain, descending from mid-air to the ground, transitioning into another realm. The brushstrokes of blue lines begin as ‘full’ and gradually become ‘transparent,’ vanishing without a trace just before reaching the canvas’s edge. This creation of Lee Ufan, from the height of Mono-ha art and the Korean Dansaekhwa movement, embodies a seamless flow with each stroke, devoid of superfluous elements. It’s a repetition that naturally draws the viewer into a state of inner contemplation.

Lee Ufan’s concepts, paintings, and sculptures often revolve around the idea of ’emptiness’ or ‘void.’ On this macroscopic foundational concept, he employs various brushstrokes, including extension (lines), leaping (representing points), swirling (symbolizing wind), and pausing (corresponding to stillness). In the ‘finite’ space of the canvas, he orchestrates an ‘infinite’ dialogue. 

Upon realizing that he could change the familiar landscapes with his own strength, Lee U-fan, post-Mono-ha art movement, delved deeper into exploring the art of ‘infinity’ and negative space. In his sculptures and paintings, he believed that despite being finite, one could express an infinite relationship with the external world. Artistic expression, for him, was a revelation of infinite dimensions.

Infused with Western minimalism while retaining Eastern thought, and interpretable through Laozi and Zhuangzi’s philosophy, Zen, and Buddhism, Lee’s artistic journey was shaped by his background as a South Korean from Gyeongsangnam-do and his life as an expatriate artist in Japan. However, for Lee, it was simply about being a creator, conveying ideas through materials, colors, and forms, and hoping to resonate with viewers in a specific space.

Marking Infinity’ aptly reflects Lee U-fan’s pursuit. His works have been included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Pompidou Center in France, and the Tate Modern in London. He is also the third Asian artist, following Nam June Paik and Cai Guo-Qiang, to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In the afternoon, due to the humidity of the Setoichi Sea, dragonflies were lively over the museum’s grassland. They flew incessantly, pausing mid-air, and in that moment, it seemed like time stood completely still. This transparent oscillation, the infinite fluttering within their brief lives, brought us an unexpected encounter and resonance on this vast grassland. Amidst stones, metals, and glass, in moments devoid of thought and desire, we stumbled upon the infinity that Lee Ufan sought.

The ‘Lee Ufan Museum’ is near to the Valley Gallery and the ‘Chichu Art Museum.’ After exploring here, I highly recommend continuing forward, riding along the mountain paths, accompanied by the breeze of Naoshima. 

The road passes by Benesse House’s ‘Beach’ and ‘Park’ areas, as well as Hiroshi Sugimoto’s ‘Time’s Corridor.’ 

Finally, you arrive at Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Yellow Pumpkin.’ Moving from a world of philosophical art back to the simplicity of the Seto Inland Sea, you journey while feeling yourself, allowing your heart to resonate with nature.

Lee Ufan Museum

Hours:

March 1 – September 30
10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
(Last admittance: 5:30 p.m.)
October 1 – last day of February
10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
(Last admittance: 4:30 p.m.)

Closed:Mondays
*Open on Mondays for national holidays but closed the next day.
Open Days Calendar

Admission:JPY1,050
*free for children 15 and under
*Online reservations are not required. Please come directly to the museum.

*If visiting the museum in a group (9 or more people), Please go to Group Visits.

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