From Point


Lee Ufan ( Korean, 1936 )

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General Description

Lee Ufan founded the Tokyo-based Mono-Ha, or “School of Things,” which developed in the 1960s. The group emphasized the fundamental materiality and physicality of objects rather than Western notions of expression or alteration. Lee began this work by mixing mineral pigment with nikawa, the animal-skin glue traditional to East Asian silk painting, and then choosing a specifically appropriate brush. While hovering over the canvas on a wooden plank, he slowly applied a daub onto the surface, beginning with a viscous blob and ending when the pigment thinned out and faded entirely. Each point is applied slowly and composed of a single layer without modification. This process is in accordance with ikkaisei _or "onceness," a philosophic principle Lee developed from the Japanese ink-painting tradition of _ippitsu ichiga (one brush, one painting), in which the myriad elements that make up a single stroke can never be repeated. Where the brush first makes contact with the canvas, the paint is thick, forming a 'ridge' that gradually becomes lighter in a process the artist refers to as yohaku, or the art of margins, indicating the resonance between the visible and invisible. He would then repeat the exercise over and over again, making visible each gesture and the passage of time it took to create the entire work. The From Point series introduced these new systems or processes into the artist's work and were based on the notion of lived time. The element of lived time constituted a dual process of action and structure that was highly ritualized and began with the preparation: an awareness of breath and bodily stance, and constancy in retaining the tension among brush, canvas, and mark.

Adapted from

  • Jeffrey Grove, DMA unpublished material, 2011.

  • Charles Wylie, Label text, Silence and Time, 2011.