15 October - 27 November 2021



The solo exhibition of Lee Bul at BB&M marks the long-awaited Korean gallery presentation of the artist, her first since 2015. In the interim six years, Lee Bul has been the subject of solo shows at major international institutions, including Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015); Hayward Gallery, London (2018); Martin Gropius-Bau, Berlin (2018); and Manege, St. Petersburg, Russia (2020); she also contributed large-scale projects to the 20th Sydney Biennale (2016) and the 58th Venice Biennale (2019).


For the first time in Korea, the exhibition at BB&M features a selection of works from the artist’s sought-after Perdu series, created with mother-of-pearl inlaid amid layers of acrylic paint repeatedly applied and sanded down to varying depths to bring forth sensuous, vibrant forms. At once painterly and dimensional, these wall works echo and elaborate on visual motifs seen in Lee’s early biomorphic sculptures. 


A remarkable example of such early work, Still (2004), is on view in the present show. A rare, freestanding sculpture (the only other similar work is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), it occupies a transition between the artist’s celebrated Cyborg sculptures and the fantastic fusion of organic and mechanical forms in the subsequent Anagrams series. An additional sculpture in the show is a scaled-down version of a 4-meter-tall work that was featured in the main exhibition at the Venice Biennale  in  2019. Study for Aubade V (1/5 Scale), made of cast steel collected from a demolished DMZ checkpoint, continues Lee’s artistic inquiry into the fractured tropes and narratives of utopian modernity, evoking the metal-lattice structures of Eiffel and Tatlin as well as the complex Cold-War history of Korea.


In her recent work Lee Bul’s imaginative topography of utopian aspirations and failures has evolved into richly detailed and captivating scenes rendered in a collage of mother-of-pearl with other mixed media on velvet panels. Works in this series, Untitled (Willing To Be Vulnerable), constitute a mode of “landscape painting” decidedly of our age: sublime yet melancholic, dystopian yet enchanting, expansive yet fractured.