Lee Bul: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum: Profile

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Asian Contemporary Artist Solo Exhibition Series Ⅲ

"Theatrum Orbis Terrarum" Photo of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Lee Bul's work is radical and grotesque at first sight, but a closer look will reveal its exceptionally sensitive and fine qualities. Such polarized features of her work are what make her art intriguing. For example, one of her major work, Cyborg (1997), is a depiction of a cyborg that epitomizes the technological advances in the industrial society.
Her cyborg is rendered in a form of fragmented pieces of a young girl's figure in her fighting gear. The artist uses white opaque silicon, often used in plastic surgery, as material to incite qualities of soft feminine skin in the hard and dry-looking doll.
In Majestic Splendor (1991), raw fish is decorated with ornaments. The peculiar combination of these materials provokes a sense of astonishment at first, attraction to the ornamental beauty next, and gradually overwhelms the viewer with its raw, fermenting smell that becomes discomforting and repulsive. It is as if the two contrasting elements of beauty and displeasure provide an approach to her work.

Throughout these phases since the late 1980s, Lee Bul's work have been open to multifarious levels of understanding. Typically, critics have understood her work in a feminist context where the artist has been seen as cunningly objecting to the phallocentric Korean society.
In other instances, critics have discussed her work from the perspectives of cultural theory and sociology, by drawing attention to influences of Japanese manga and animation on Korea's mass culture.
Lee Bul believes that the physical body is the most expressive material for her work. Therefore, she has marked the crisis of the body by first creating a series of cyborgs, followed by monsters.
During this process, she has also started to turn her attention way from her earlier feminist message and more so towards the global theme of mankind in the 21st century, such as science and technology, nature (life and death), and environment. Her new work, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, may be one of the first steps into this new direction.

Lee Bul Biography
1964 Born in Yongwol, Korea
1987 Graduated Hong-Ik University, Seoul

Currently lives and works in Seoul

Solo Exhibition
1988 IL Gallery, Seoul
1994 Unforgiven, A Space, Toronto
1997 Projects, Museum of Modern Art, New York
1998 Artsonje Center, Seoul
1999 Korean Pavilion, 48th Venice Biennale, Venice
Kunsthalle Bern Projektraum, Bern, Germany
2000 Fukuouka Asian Art Museum
Kukje Gallery, Seoul
2001 The Fabric Workshop and Museum Philadelphia
San Francisco Institute, San Francisco
BAWAG Foundation, Vienna
SCAI the Bathhouse, Tokyo
2002 The Power Plant, Toronto
Slusser Gallery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
MAC Galeries contemporaines des musees de Marseille
New Museum of Contemporary Art,
New York
Le Consortium, center d'art contemporain, Dijon
pkm Gallery, Seoul
Rodin Gallery, Samsung Museum, Seoul
Orange County Museum if Art, Newport Beach, California
2003 Henry Art Gallery, Seattle
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, Arizona
Recent Group Exhibition
1997 Cities on the Move, Secession, Vienna (also New York, Bordeaux, Helsinki)
4th Lyon Biennale, Lyon
1998 Traffic Jam, Buro Fridhrich, Mitte, Berlin
Hugo Boss Prize 1998, Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York
2000 1st Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai
media_city Seoul, Seoul Metropolitan Art Museum, Seoul
Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial 2000, Niigata
2001 ARS 01: Third Space, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki
Egofugal, Istabul Biennale, Istanbul
6th Lyon Biennale, Lyon
My Reality: The Culture of Anime, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines (traveling)
2002 Bingo, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris
Fusion Cuisine, Deste Foundation, Athens
The Uncanny, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver

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