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Why I relate to Lee Ufan

I was born in Jilin, the north province of China, but my parents brought me to Shen Zhen before I turned one years old, so I don't have much memories of the north.

Shen Zhen is near Hong Kong, where I grew up watching all the Hong Kong Television, where most of it was not banned at that time. I learn my cantonese from TV.

Even I speak perfect cantonese of course the cantonese locals will still think you are from the north, but from the people of the north they will think you are not one of them. 

My father's side is Machurian, even on my ID card it says my ethnicity group is Manchurian but the language is long gone and I have no idea what is Machuarian as well.

Being living in both Shen Zhen and Hong Kong is like constantly pushed and pulled at the same time, of course I don't belong to anywhere, Shen Zhen is a city of immigration anyway, while Hong Kong is like a inter-zone between worlds.

To me both cities are like channels, each to different world of meanings. But not with a clear definition itself. 

When I first saw Lee Ufan's Relatum series it strucked me. It is like a visual representation of contradictory movement he went through, and what I can resonate with.

He was born in South Korean, but move to Japan in his 20s, he lived in Japan for more than 40 years and travel around the world after his artworks become known. However it might because of too much relations he had, it made him doesn't belong to anywhere.

From a Korean point of view he is too Japanese , from a Japanese point of view he is still Korean deep down, and of course from the west he is oriental. (Lee Ufan, 2001)

In his book The Art of Yohaku, he talks about being stuck in the middle.

He was like a PingPong ball being bounced back and forth and cannot land on anywhere. From one side he is an escaper from the other side he is an invader.

But in his words(The Art of Yohaku, 2001,p11)'In this case if they are staring at you intensely, it means I am staring at them desperately too. It is because we are not unified I can see them clearly. The mechanic of distance creates me. For a human being, the distancing of being outside is both pain and strength.To see and be seen is painful. However this uncomfortable place with no ground might be what being alive is. '

To me, it might be what existence mean, the inability to exist in pre-existence is what makes my individual existence.

Like Lee Ufan, it becomes a habit of mine to see the "gap" or cracks between things since I don't belong to anywhere. I was interesting in philosophy, but I like to approach the knowledge by learning how eastern and western philosophy is connected, the concept of gap/channel is very important to me. In this way Lee Ufan has been a great channel for that.


I learn Martin Heidegger's phenomenology through Taoism and Zen, I learn Nishida Kitaro and DT.Suzuki through Heidegger and Derrida. It is the uncomfortable movement between gaps that I found my own channel.

Scan 14 Apr 2020.jpg
Scan 14 Apr 20201.jpg

Silence Room, Lee Ufan Museum in Naoshima, Japan


Lee Ufan



Steel and stones

two plates 1 3/16 x 47 1/4 x 39 3/8 inches (3 x 120 x 100 cm) each; two stones, approximately 19 11/16 inches (50 cm) high each

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Gift, Lisson Gallery, in honor of Lee Ufan, 2011



Lee Ufan



Steel and stones

two poles, 118 1/8 x 1 9/16 inches (300 x 4 cm) each; two stones, approximately 9 13/16 inches (25 cm) and 11 13/16 inches (30 cm) high

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Gift, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, in honor of Lee Ufan, 2011




Lee Ufan, Relatum - The Arch of Versailles, 2014, stainless steel and two stones, 36' 6-3/16" x 49' 2-9/16" x 6' 6-3/4" (1,113 cm x 1,500 cm x 200 cm), overall installed © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



Lee Ufan 
Relatum-Stage, 2018 
Two steel panels, two stones, concrete base Stones: 60 x 60 cm / 23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in & 130 x 120 cm / 51 1/4 x 47 1/4 in Steel panels each: 200 x 150 x 3 cm / 78 3/4 x 59 1/8 x 1 1/4 in Concrete base: 50 x 450 x 400 cm / 19 3/4 x 177 1/8 x 157 1/2 in


Lee Ufan 
Relatum - Rest , 2013 
Gravel, glass, steel, stone Glass 250 x 250 x 2 cm / 98 1/2 x 98 1/2 x 1 in. Steel 250 x 250 x 2 cm / 98 1/2 x 98 1/2 x 1 in.

Stone 70 x 70 x 70 cm / 27 1/2 x 27 1/2 x 27 1/2 in.



Lee Ufan



Oil and mineral pigment on canvas

89 3/8 x 71 5/8 inches (227 x 182 cm)

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Gift, The Pace Gallery, New York, and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, in honor of Lee Ufan, 2011



Lee Ufan



Oil, stone pigment on canvas

218 x 291 cm

The Concept of Basho

The most famous concept in Nishida's philosophy is the logic of basho (Japanese: 場所; usually translated as "place" or "topos"), a non-dualistic concrete logic, meant to overcome the inadequacy of the subject–object distinction essential to the subject logic of Aristotle and the predicate logic of Immanuel Kant, through the affirmation of what he calls the "absolutely contradictory self-identity", a dynamic tension of opposites that, unlike the dialectical logic of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, does not resolve in a synthesis. Rather, it defines its proper subject by maintaining the tension between affirmation and negation as opposite poles or perspectives.

Maraldo, John. 201. "Nishida Kitaro" Standford Encyclopedia Philosophy  accessed March 30, 2020. 


Lee, Ufan. 2000. Yohaku no Geijutsu (The Art of YOHAKU), Tokyo, Misuzu Shobo.

Nishida, Kitaro. 1992. An Inquiry into the Good, New Haven, Connecticut, Yales University Press.

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