On May 5, Dia:Beacon is launching a major exhibition of a selection of pioneering early work by Lee Ufan; avant-garde, visionary artist, critical art theorist and philosopher. Ufan’s oeuvre, encompassing tangible and intangible media, reveals a philosophy of existence that is considered, tactful, sombre and relational. All things are connected and contingent on a interplay between object and human-sense.
Ufan is commonly associated with the もの派 (Mono-ha, Japanese) movement, a school of thought and practice that developed in Japan in the 1960s. It is said that the term もの派 was adopted some time after it had formed and that, similar to the Impressionists, the name of the movement was originally used by critics in a satirical manner to dismiss もの派 work as a faction of artistic practice. Commonly translated as School of (派, ha) Things (もの, mono), the use of 派 suggests that もの派 practice was seen in a philosophical as well as socio-political sense. This is fitting considering that もの派 would have been viewed and analysed within the complex social-political context of 1960 and 70s Japanese youth movement; one that was decidedly anti-US imperialism and that clashed with the dominance of American minimalism in the Japanese art industry at the time.
Ufan has published widely on the subject of もの派, his philosophies and artwork. ‘Selected Writings by Lee Ufan 1970-96, Lisson Gallery, London, 1996’ is a good introduction to this internationally-significant artist and art movement. Ufan’s website also has a list of other publications (click here to be re-directed to Lee Ufan’s website) for further research.