South Korean artist, Lee Bul, continues her beautiful exploration into utopian ideals with her latest exhibition Lee Bul: LMG Show 2017 currently on view at Lehmann Maupin in Chelsea.
Entering the exhibit via Souterrain, a disco-ball-like tunnel composed of mirrors, it doesn't take long before visitors have to crouch down in order to successfully pass through its dramatically lowered ceiling. The once grandiose entryway quickly gives way to discomfort and claustrophobia, implying all that glimmers is not so perfect.
Once inside, visitors can gaze upon Untitled: In This New..., a sleek mirror suspended by steel chains featuring a network of flickering LED lights resembling an intricate cityscape at night. A series of lushly colored abstract works composed in acrylic paint collaged with mother of pearl, human hair, dried flowers, acrylic panels, and crystals on leather or velvet explore "aspirational and optimistic impulses" associated with "utopian idealism" while simultaneously hinting at "ruin, fragmentation, and destruction" (from the show's press release). The elegantly "unfinished state" of these works reference the "persistent human drive to find a sense of 'completeness.'"
Bul's installation Civitas Solis IV is a complex, miniature city consisting of silver architecture and mirrored streets dotted with light bulbs framed by two-way mirrors referencing a "futuristic vision imagined through utopian ideology and aesthetics." Inspired by Tommaso Campanella's City of the Sun, Bul recreates the novel's "city formed of concentric walls housing an egalitarian community" with a "quadrant-shaped structure" that becomes a complete circle in the reflection of the mirrors. The reflective surfaces of the mini city challenge "the boundaries between the real and the imaginary" and suggest "the infinite possibilities of human will and imagination."
With the current political climate, Bul's examining the pursuit of an idealistic world couldn't be more timely and compelling. Learn more at LehmannMaupin.com and see my May 2010 post on Lee Bul (where I regrettably misspelled her name in the title) here. Through February 11th.