Lee Ufan: Open Dimension is an ambitious site-specific commission by the celebrated Korean artist Lee Ufan. The expansive installation will feature approximately 10 new sculptures from the artist’s signature and continuing Relatum series and marks the artist’s largest site-specific outdoor sculpture project in the U.S. It is the first exhibition of Lee’s work in the nation’s capital, and the first time in the museum’s 44-year history that its 4.3-acre outdoor plaza will be devoted entirely to the work of a single artist.
Each of the sculptures will be created in response to the museum’s unique architecture, and will continue Lee’s iconic practice of placing contrasting materials, such as stainless steel plates and boulders, in dialogue with one another to heighten awareness of the world, in Lee’s words, “exactly as it is.” Leaving the materials relatively unaltered, Lee arranges them with careful attention to the subtle nuances of the site in order to foreground the visitor’s encounter with the art as it unfolds in time and space. The Hirshhorn’s circular building further amplifies the experience by offering myriad viewpoints for visitors to encounter the artwork throughout the plaza.
A leading founder of the late 1960s Japanese movement called Mono-ha, or “School of Things,” Lee views art as an encounter between the viewer, the materials and the site. In his Relatum sculptures, each element is arranged with this greater network in mind, and Lee is especially cognizant of how the presence of contrasting materials can alter what and how we see. These works are rooted in contemplation and sensation rather than static representation, and in this way, Lee effectively strips away the world around people by appealing to their emotions and encouraging them to surrender to the experience of art.