Image: Lee Bul
Photo: Lee Bul, Willing To Be Vulnerable – Metalized Balloon, 2015–2019. Courtesy Lee Bul Studio and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London • Paris • Salzburg • Seoul.
Museum Exhibition

Lee Bul Solo exhibition at the Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, Finland

23 September 2023—14 January 2024
Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere, Finland

Seoul-based Lee Bul is one of South Korea’s most internationally acclaimed artists. Her exhibition at the Sara Hildén Art Museum is the first extensive showing of her work ever seen in Finland. It presents two decades of art, including sculptures from her Mon grand récit series, mixed-media pieces from her Willing to Be Vulnerable series, and paintings from her new Perdu series.

The Mon grand récit series deals with utopian thinking and humankind’s pursuit of a perfect society as manifest in cities and feats of architecture.

One of the key works in the exhibition is Willing To Be Vulnerable – Metalized Balloon (2015–2019), a sculpture of an airship. Other works from the same series will also be featured, including an installation of fabric formations and collages on velvet.

The title of the Perdu series refers to Marcel Proust’s series of novels In Search of Lost Time. Small flecks of mother-of-pearl glimmer on the surface of the paintings, reflecting Lee’s interest in leaving visible traces of her process. Her paintings consist of superimposed layers of paint and mother-of-pearl, which she slowly sands down, allowing the colours and shapes to emerge partly by chance.

Lee’s art engages in oblique social commentary. She opposes all forms of totalitarianism, also in art. Her aesthetic idiom evades definition, and her choice of material is guided by whatever seems thematically pertinent.
Lee often deliberately uses contrasting materials, such as organic silk and mother-of-pearl combined with synthetic fibreglass and silicone. Mother-of-pearl holds special fascination for the artist: it is a beautiful product of suffering, being formed by molluscs to repair internal wounds.

Multiple histories are intertwined in Lee’s art: the history of thought and human emotion, South Korean society through the ages, and the artist’s personal life story.

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