Castello di Ama announces “Topos (Excavated)”, a new installation by the renowned Korean artist Lee Ufan. This is the latest in a series of site-specific, permanent artworks for Castello di Ama for Contemporary Art, and the first project undertaken in collaboration with Philip Larratt-Smith, who was appointed curator of Ama last year.
Lee Ufan emerged in the late 1960s as a leading exponent of the Mono-Ha tendency in Japan and has since won worldwide recognition as an artist and philosopher. Moving fluidly between sculpture, painting, and installation, Lee’s work often brings together objects taken from nature with handpainted forms that register the specificity of the artist’s bodily gestures. Such juxtapositions serve to trigger a heightened awareness of the dual aspects of time: the flow of lived time, experienced physically and mentally by the individual, and the concept of infinity. Taken as a whole, his art represents a powerful meditation on man and nature, the present and eternity, being and the void. In Topos (Excavated), Lee has transformed one of the wine cellars at Ama into an immersive installation that turns on the relationship between the resonant context of the 14th century architecture and the visual language developed by the artist. Within a roughhewn stone vault, Lee has invented a dramatically lit mise en scène featuring a wall drawing and a floor painting. The rear wall displays the outline of a form drawn in charcoal over a white gesso ground, suggesting the trace of something that has faded over time. On the floor, a single form painted over a rough concrete ground is framed by a gravel walk of Carrara marble. As the subtitle implies, this floor painting looks as if it has been discovered rather than made, embodying the artist’s belief that “art is based on a previous encounter” and that artistic expression is in reality a “re-presentation” of that encounter. The viewer is invited to enter the work and view its discrete elements from different perspectives; the crunch of the gravel underfoot serves as a constant reminder of his own presence. This sets up a complex interplay between artwork, site, and viewer which, in Lee’s words, “produces the feeling of opening up a new universe.” Inspired by a recent visit to Ama, Topos (Excavated) was conceived and created especially for this underground place where wine is stored. In the artist’s words: “It can be said that wine awakens something deep and subconscious within man and guides man to a different dimension beyond its ordinary space. A great artwork, like a well-aged wine, should transcend itself and include within itself time and the spatial surroundings of the outside.” Topos (Excavated) crystallizes the full breadth and reach of Lee’s searching philosophical investigations into perception, identity, memory, and the passage of time
- Lee Ufan. Photo credits: Alessandro Moggi