Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction


Lee Ufan
B. 1936
signed and dated 16 on the side; signed, titled and dated 2016 on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
291 by 218 cm. 114 1/2 by 85 3/4 in.
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Kamel Mennour, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2016

Catalogue Note

"I am the one who creates the power of balance, but the feeling of infinity that drifts from the piece depends on the spatial strength of the negative space. Created in this manner, a work continues to give life to concept and actuality while influencing both"
(Lee Ufan, Selected writings by Lee Ufan 1970-96, London 1996, p. 114).

Through one brush stroke, Dialogue channels a profound emotional resonance for the viewer, bringing them into a state of inner contemplation. Executed by pioneering Korean artist Lee Ufan, the present work is fuelled with aesthetic vibrancy and explores the relationship between the inner-life and the exterior. Dialogue is composed of a singular blue brushstroke diffusing into the background: at the start of the brush, the line appears dark and thick, but progressively becomes thinner and lighter, before completely disappearing into the white canvas. Untouched by the act of expression, the use of negative and empty space in Dialogue is as vital to the work as the singular blue motif. The open space allows the rise of the meditative qualities of the work and a phenomenon of encounter to emerge from the connection between the painted object and the white background.

A deep mutual relationship between Lee Ufan and his painting is also formed and felt as he fully immerses himself into the process of creation by fusing his body and hands in the very essential elements that create the work. His breathing deeply and movements are embedded within the work as he starts by breathing then holding his breath to delicately apply the brush for two precise minutes before repeating the action several times.

The title, Dialogue, reflects upon Ufan’s concern with the profoundness of relationships rather than objects or figures in themselves. It is a call to focus and appreciate the slowness of experience to connection and time. As art is fundamentally an argument to return to a more human centred view of the universe, Ufan brings a divided world together. The organic nature of Dialogue captures the essence of time and space by breathing and expanding itself infinitely. It attempts to capture the viewer’s full attention, to deliver us from our one-sidedness and enter into a realm of connectiveness. Ultimately, this unique composition questions modernity, consumerism and industrialisation, and the pressure inflicted on society to act in a fast-pace that limits us to individualism. It encourages the viewer to take a step back, meditate and reflect on the passage of time and accept it as a natural process of life.

Dialogue is emblematic of Lee Ufan’s iconic facture, which consists of singular or plural marks placed on a white background. What is felt through his oeuvre is vigour and energy as his art becomes alive through the relationship with its surrounding space. 

Contemporary Art Day Auction