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Lyon biennial : the artist Lee Ufan faces Le Corbusier

Invited to exhibit at the convent of La Tourette, the famous building master of the concrete, the Korean artist introduces the keys of life and fragility in the robust system architecture.

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Invite contemporary artists in historical monuments since a long time is usual. It is that, at initiative of community of dominicans who occupied convent Sainte Marie de La Tourette, famous work of Le Corbusier (1887-1965), received since 2009, François Morellet, Anne and Patrick Poirier, Philippe Favier, or even Anish Kapoor.

This year, this is Lee Ufan, painter and sculptor, highly sought after by collectors and museums, it comes back to confront place, located in Eveux, near Lyons. Born in 1936 in a Korea occupied by Japan, artist lives mainly near Tokyo but not least a workshop in Paris, where, quietly, he comes to paint without saying anything. While his works were exhibited at Pace Gallery in New York or hong Kong, at Kamel Mennour, Paris, or Guggenheim museum in New York, he likes to go unnoticed in area of North suburb of paris where he has his habits.

It is in this workshop, among his paintings, most recent, dazzling red and intense blue, as he explains his presence to The Tourette's. He explains himself and does not tell, because he did not want to stay in neutrality : before deciding, he went to convent and has faced. From his first words, his discomfort is noticeable : "A construction with wild look in concrete although massive, standing on side of a hill. "All achievements of Le Corbusier, he says, is" particularly gross, ruthless, and violent ".

Gaps, lags, and vibration

he noted that re is a church and dominican convent, and that this order is deemed to be strict and little inclined to pleasures. The note does not stop it. "It is a place of religion, of course, but this place refuses to treat brors as men. He treats m as prisoners. As symbolized by small cells of mineral aspect, all spaces of convent repel each or with force which would be of order of opulence, hedonism, freedom and magnificence. They floor instead of human beings and ir awareness of ir smallness and of ir insignificance, like that of prisoners in face of absolute. "

of Course, artist knew for a very long time work of swiss architect, who designed project of Museum of western art, Tokyo and has had many disciples among japanese architects. One of m, Tadao Ando, is very close to Lee Ufan. They spoke of Le Corbusier on occasion of project of La Tourette. "Tadao has advised me not to say very hard things against Le Corbusier, for me not to make enemies. "Council has remained without effect :" His design is very authoritarian, without heat. The haughty and authoritarian. He wants to assert his greatness, a greatness that separates him from rest of men. As for me, when I think of men, I think of beings normal. I'm not trying to shoot m down, but to lead m to reflection and sensitivity. "

In se conditions, those of a struggle between conceptions of creation incompatible, how Lee Ufan has-t-he process ? By understanding immediately that place is not of those where you come from, with paintings and sculptures that have already been made to have best – " This is only way to resist this particular place ", he said.

In determining n places where it seemed possible to intervene. "Anything I can touch is very minimal compared to entire building. There are parts where I can't do anything. It was really difficult. I've changed several times my concept. I broke head. "He said, smiling," but this is not a coquetry. Tourette's, for Lee Ufan, was not an invitation flattering, but a test. Rar than works or interventions, it prefers to speak of interstices, gaps and vibration.

On a meadow, sloping, he has covered grass of slates, mselves under a large metal plate supported by a stone. Lee Ufan compares this space is low and narrow and located under sheet metal to a housing for animal, " a very primitive ", but where re would be life. Inside, in a room entirely of concrete, he has built anor room, smaller, " more welcoming ", using Korean paper end and translucent.

The color orwise

Fragile and ephemeral, too : layout wanted by Lee Ufan only lasts a few weeks and announces, by its matter, even, of its inevitable disappearance. Lesson of modesty addressed to hero of concrete ?

To harden even perception of space, it was covered with slates flat on floor of anor room concrete neighbor " in order to make it still more rude and wild ". Even harsh : "I made a space that looks like a grave with a sheet metal of a width and a height of one meter, and I lit candles. "

In two places, Lee Ufan brings color, while it is concerned about more today. While his pictorial work of last two decades was dominated by white of background and shades of gray of one or more keys at lower edge sometimes thick, red and blues broke for past two years. Their brilliance, ir overlays, a certain way of dancing pose tones characterize this new way, which takes more liberty with previous renewal unexpected for an artist of 81 years. The paintings found in his studio are proof of that.

But Lee Ufan decided not to hang that one in refectory of convent and in church, to show color differently : cutting a long form with a dominant scarlet, he placed it on a bed of sand and gravel. "It will be as if we déterrait this image. I hope to create conditions for a perception quite different, more human. "

This article has been written in framework of a partnership with Biennale de Lyon.


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