Busan Museum of Art, Korea
Opened: 10/4/2015

A new space has opened for one of Japan and Korea's most celebrated artists, Lee Ufan, at the Busan Museum of Art in Korea's southernmost and second largest city, Busan.

Titled 'Space Lee Ufan', the building is solely dedicated to showcasing the works of the renowned artist, with two floors including a cafe and gallery store, covering a generous 660?. Located by the main building of the Busan Museum of Art, the new space sits facing the Museum's sculpture garden where many of the artists works are also found. Conceptualised over two years and built within 12 months, it stands in a location that the artist himself visited over three times to determine particular positioning, direction and light and where the artist "was committed to making the space an artwork itself", explains Cho Il Sang, the Director of Busan Museum of Art.

'Space Lee Ufan' is as minimalist yet detail-driven and complex as the artworks it contains. Architecturally designed by Lee Ufan himself, who took on the design and basic planning of the gallery, ensuring the architectural elements focussed on sustainability to maintain future longevity.

The solid, rectangular concrete and glass building with a pivotal transparent front façade is comprised of 144 glass panels (6 x 24) and reflects a mirror-like quality during the day, and at night while centrally lit, showcases a transparent interior. A grey palette presides the overall theme with alternating shaded grey walls, and concrete and wooden flooring, including the gallery staff in grey uniforms and sneakers. Generous with natural light, the main room located on the second floor showcases an partially open ceiling allowing for natural light, harmonising with the concrete-dominant space.

A long wooden staircase connects both floors and is uniquely positioned alongside the front glass facade, providing a stellar view of artworks both inside and outside whilst in transition between both main areas of the building. Atop the second floor, the recording of a faint sound of a Korean Bongdeoksa "Emille" Bell can be heard. An expressive and moving sound, dim yet subtly discovered by passing visitors.

Born in Korea, Ufan spent the majority of his early years in Japan, where he was pivotal in introducing new practices and movements, such as the Korean monochrome painting movement tansaekhwa, and where he established the late 1960's avant-garde Japanese art movement, Mono-ha. Mono-ha is translated to 'School Of Things', expressing the meaning of a substance which is unmade. Emphasising materials, perception and relationships between space and matter, with the dialogue between his sculptures of stone and steel are an example of this.

The interior details of 'Space Lee Ufan' take on many qualities similar to the 'Lee Ufan Museum' on Naoshima Island, a building that the artist designed in collaboration together with, and after, long insight conversation with the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Positioned in isolation in a valley surrounded by mountains and sea, the first museum offers a connection between nature, architecture and art, and perfect for reflection and mediation as his work encourages. Yet the exterior architecture and shape of 'Space Lee Ufan' in Busan is much different to that in Naoshima Island, as the striking and large rectangular building rather dominates in statute rather than harmonising with the surrounding nature. Ufan explains, "In Naoshima, the amazing architecture of Tadao Ando's building plays the dominant role, and my works resonate with it as a part of that space. In Busan, the purpose, or priority, of the space is to exhibit my work which vitalises the space."

However the similarities are found in the details of the wall structures (partitioned areas between each gallery room, encouraging personal transition between spaces) and the lighting details; LED lighting panels embedded in the ceiling as bright shards and an angular complement to the gallery space's overall geometry.

Ufan's work is shown in numerous public collections internationally, such as the Tate Modern Gallery in London, to the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, yet 'Space Lee Ufan' presides in the humble location of Busan, a pivotal space and generous homecoming for the artist.

Address:  Busan Museum of Art
58, APEC-ro, Haeundae-gu, Busan, 612-894, Korea