Lee U-Fan

Shirota Gallery; Tokyo Gallery

Lee U-Fan was trained in calligraphy, that art of the encounter between the rhythmic (respiration, gesture) and the static (paper, canvas). The greater part of his work is concerned with points and lines. He says that to exist is a point, to live, a line.

If this sounds like a mix of Asian and Western ideas, it is no accident. Lee is a Korean who has lived most of his life in Japan. He studied philosophy, and his early writings concern Rainer Maria Rilke and Friedrich Nietzsche. His work might evoke the great traditions of Asian landscape and Zen painting, but it is equally aligned with the Minimalists or Conceptualists of the ’70s and the great formalists of the Modern period. Lee seems to approach painting with as much of the calligrapher’s as the deconstructionist’s attitude.

Though he may use calligraphy’s techniques, Lee does not write or compose characters, letters, or texts. These

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