Lee Bul’s First UK Solo Exhibition

Korean Artist Lee Bul Ikon Gallery 009

We wrote about Lee Bul’s epic display at the KCC last month and after a weekend away in Birmingham, we also got to visit Lee Bul’s first UK solo exhibition at the Ikon Gallery.

Korean Artist Lee Bul Ikon Gallery 003Ikon presents the first UK solo show of works by Korean artist Lee Bul. This survey of early drawings, studies, sculptural pieces and ambitious installations – including a new commission made especially for Ikon – showcases the visually compelling and intellectually sharp works which have established Lee Bul as one of the most important artists of her generation – Ikon Gallery website

This exhibition is absolutely amazing and allows us to see a whole different side of Lee Bul compared to the display at the KCC. Lee Bul’s structures are detailed and intricate. At first glance, they look beautiful especially Bruno Taut which resembles an extravagant chandelier but as you look closer and explore a little deeper, for example the structure with all the black hair, you feel the urge to seek Lee Bul’s insights, her thoughts and feelings as she constructed these large scale installations as you just know there must be a number of interesting ideas behind each piece.

Korean Artist Lee Bul Ikon Gallery 005

The large scale structures means there is so much to explore. You can walk around the whole piece and see all the different details, from the strands of hair to all the tree-like points on the Bruno Taut that almost seems like a futuristic forest. We are also extremely impressed by the level of skill that must have gone into each installation. There is metal construction, ceramic work; it even looks like Lee Bul built a small scale roller coaster and the snowy location from the film Inception!

Korean Artist Lee Bul Ikon Gallery 007

The second floor of the gallery features the Via Negativa, a fully immersive environment created by Lee Bul. We saw a little model of this at the KCC but at the Ikon Gallery you can enter and experience this structure and it’s journey. Like a circus hall of mirrors, the maze is completely covered in reflective material meaning everywhere you look is your own reflection. It is a “labyrinth that confuses our sense of space through faceted and highly reflective surfaces. An analogy for the human mind, in Lee Bul’s own words, “it makes the viewer feel uncomfortable and self-conscious… seeing their fragmented selves…”, culminating in a small chamber with two-way mirrors where one is caught up in an infinity of self-images”. This piece was fun and thought-provoking. Personally we loved working through the maze and making our way to the brightly lit centre, but we could see other visitors getting claustrophobic and quickly ducking out to escape the maze.

Korean Artist Lee Bul Ikon Gallery 004

Korean Artist Lee Bul Ikon Gallery 006

At the Ikon Gallery you will also see many of Lee Bul’s sketches, early drawings and smaller sculptural pieces. In the early years, Lee Bul gained attention with her street performance-based work such as wearing a full-body soft sculpture said to be “simultaneously alluring and grotesque”. At the Ikon Gallery you will see some very early sketches of this “outfit” as well as a wide range of Lee Bul’s portfolio, not just structures and large installation. We particularly love the range of wired dog models made from all different materials and textiles.

Korean Artist Lee Bul Ikon Gallery 008

Korean Artist Lee Bul Ikon Gallery 001

Lee Bul is a remarkably fascinating artist. Her pieces embody so much thought and ideas. You could easily spend hours exploring all the installations and fully submerging yourself into Lee Bul’s art (many of which you can actually go in!). Some of the pieces are just so detailed, from the type of material, to the way the textures are manipulated and created, it’s very hard to describe and the only way to experience Lee Bul’s art is to see it with your own eyes! This is one exhibition not to be missed and it ends on 9th November so catch it whilst you can!

Lee Bul’s first UK Solo show will be at
Ikon Gallery Birmingham from
10 September — 9 November 2014

Brindleyplace, off Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2HS

For more information visit the Ikon gallery website

If you can’t make it to Birmingham, the Lee Bul display at the KCCUK is also a must see as the exhibition area has been completely transformed into a futuristic, cyborg like zone to coincide with the Ikon gallery exhibition. But hurry! You only have until this Saturday 1st November. If you miss it, you can always read our post on the KCCUK exhibition and check out our photo album on Facebook

The Lee Bul exhibition will be on at the KCCUK from
13 September – 1 November, 2014

For more information visit the KCCUK website
Please note the KCCUK is closed on Sundays

Korean Artist Lee Bul Ikon Gallery 002


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