Photo © Lee Ufan, photo:Shu Nakagawa
20th Anniversary of Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art


Lee Ufan
2022.12.13[Tue.] - 2023.2.12[Sun.]
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art
Even if the self is finite,
the infinite appears
in our relation to the world around.
Artistic expression is
a revelation of an infinite dimension.
Lee Ufan

It is with great pleasure that we present a major retrospective by Lee Ufan (born in 1936), a contemporary artist who has received a great deal of attention internationally as a prominent member of the Japan-based Mono-ha group.

Eagerly absorbing a wide range of thought and literature from the East and the West, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Lee, who focused on the uncertainty of vision, spearheaded Mono-ha (lit. “School of Things”) by combining natural and artificial materials in a temperate manner in both his visual art and writings. Moreover, Lee evolved a worldview based on the notion that all things are interrelated not only in his visual art but also in his writings.

Lee's works liberate art from the world of images, subjects, and meaning, and raise questions about the relationship between things, and things and people. This proves that the entire world exists synchronically and is mutually related. Oddly enough, the threat of the novel coronavirus has forced us to change our anthropocentric worldview. Lee's highly revelatory thought and practice provides us with insights about how we might escape this unprecedented crisis.

The exhibition assembles Lee's most important works, including everything from his earliest pre-Mono-ha pieces, which considered the problem of vision, the Relatum series, which changed the concept of sculpture, and his highly spiritual paintings, which produce a tranquil rhythm. In addition to showcasing Lee's past works, enabling us to trace the trajectory of his creation practice, the exhibition is also scheduled to include his latest ground-breaking efforts.

  • This exhibition marks the first retrospective in Western Japan of work by Lee Ufan, one of the leading figures in the Mono-ha group.
  • This traveling exhibition was first held at the National Art Center, Tokyo from August to November 2022. However, some of the display works have been changed for this edition.
  • The structure of the exhibition was completely devised by Lee Ufan himself. Stretching from his earliest sculptures of the 1960s to his latest efforts, the exhibition provides a comprehensive view of the artist’s work, development, and personality.
  • The exhibition is divided into two main sections: sculpture and painting. The works are displayed in chronological order to foster a better understanding of the development process in Lee’s sculptures and paintings.
  • A new work has also been installed outside in conjunction with the architecture of the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, which was designed by Ando Tadao.
  • The audio guide is available completely free of charge.

Exhibition Highlights

The artist Lee Ufan personally determined the composition of this exhibition, which comprehensively highlights Lee’s work, development, and distinctive character from the dawn of his career in the 1960s to his most recent works. The exhibition is divided into two main sections, one focusing on sculpture and the other on painting, with the processes of his sculptures’ and paintings’ development presented in such a way that the viewer can follow each chronologically.

Appearing at the beginning of the exhibition are Landscape I, II, III(1968), a set of three paintings executed with pink fluorescent paint on canvas, which were included in the exhibition Contemporary Korean Painting (1968) at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and are representative of Lee’s early style. Like the pair of reliefs Fourth Structure A and Fourth Structure B (both 1968), also employing fluorescent paint, these works produce powerful optical illusions that disrupt the viewer’s vision. With their deceptive optical effects, these works embody trends that flourished in Japan in the late 1960s.

  • Landscape I, II, III
    Landscape I, II, III
    Spray paint on canvas
    218.2×291cm each
    Private collection, deposited at The Museum of Modern Art, Gunma
    Photo: Nobutada Omote

Relatum, ongoing since around 1968, is a series of three-dimensional pieces primarily comprising combinations of stone, steel, and glass. These materials are largely left unaltered, and rather than concepts or meanings, Lee’s focus is on relations: between object and place, object and space, object and object, object and image. Since the 1990s, Lee has also become more conscious of the dynamics of objects and environments, and has produced works in the Relatum series in which stone and steel forms are correlated. His more recent works have tended to be increasingly site-specific, as exemplified by Relatum – Dwelling (B) (2017), installed at the La Tourette monastery in France.

  • Relatum
    Stone, steel, glass
    Stone, approx. 80×60×80cm;
    steel, 240×200×1.6cm;
    glass, 240×200×1.5cm
    Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
    Photo: Kei Miyajima
  • Relatum-Dwelling (B)
    Relatum-Dwelling (B)
    Collection of the artist
    Installation view: Lee Ufan chez le Corbusier - Au-delà des souvenirs, Couvent de La Tourette, Éveux, France, 2017 © Foundation Le Corbusier, photo: Jean-Philippe Simard

In 2021, Lee held a solo exhibition at the ancient Roman necropolis of Alyscamps, located in Arles, France. The exhibition included Relatum – Infinite Thread (one of the most recent works in Lee’s Relatum series), which consists of a single piece of string hanging down over a large circular sheet of stainless steel polished to look like a mirror. For this exhibition, Lee has installed a new work based on this earlier piece in the spiral staircase that extends from the basement of the museum to the second floor. This display promises to create a deep resonance between the architectural space, designed by Ando Tadao, and Lee’s work.

  • Relatum - The Infinite Thread
    Relatum - The Infinite Thread
    Stainless steel and string
    Dimensions variable
    Collection of the artist

After being inspired by Barnett Newman’s solo exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA) in 1971, Lee recalled the calligraphy he had learned in early childhood and became more interested in the expression of time in painting. The From Point and From Line series of paintings, launched in the early 1970s, present color in the process of gradually fading. These systematic series, which convey the passage of time through vestiges of actions, continued for approximately a decade.

  • From Point
    From Point
    Japanese pigment and glue on canvas
    The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
  • From Line
    From Line
    Japanese pigment and glue on canvas
    The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

In the 1980s Lee’s paintings took on a more chaotic aspect, with dynamic brushwork, as seen in the From Winds and With Winds series. From around the end of the 1980s, the number of brushstrokes progressively dwindled and empty space became increasingly prominent. In the 2000s, Lee radically curtailed his painterly actions, experimenting with reactions between just a few brushstrokes and blank, unpainted space, as in the series Correspondance and Dialogue. In contrast to the temporality of From Point and From Line, the paintings in these series are spatial in nature.

  • 風と共に
    From Winds
    Mineral pigment and oil on canvas
    227×182 cm
    Toyota Municipal Museum of Art
  • 応答
    Acrylic on canvas
    291×218 cm
    Collection of the artist
Lee Ufan at the Alyscamps, Arles, France, 2021
© StudioLeeUfan, photo: Claire Dorn
Lee Ufan
Born in Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea, in 1936, Lee attended Seoul National University before moving to Japan in 1956. He later studied philosophy at Nihon University. Lee is known as a leading figure in Mono-ha, one of the most significant art movements in postwar Japan, which emerged in the late ’60s.
His essay “From Object to Being” was awarded the Bijutsu Shuppan-sha Art Criticism Prize in 1969, and his book The Art of Encounter, which appeared in 1971, became the theoretical pillar for Mono-ha. His 2002 book The Art of Margins has been translated into English, French, and Korean, etc. In recent years, Lee, who has been consistently showing his work in Japan and abroad for over 50 years, has become increasingly active in other countries, holding solo exhibitions at the Guggenheim (New York, USA, 2011), Palace of Versailles (Versailles, France, 2014) and Centre Pompidou-Metz (Metz, France, 2019). Meanwhile in Japan, the Lee Ufan Museum, designed by the architect Ando Tadao, opened on the island of Naoshima in Kagawa Prefecture in 2010. This will be Lee’s first large-scale solo exhibition since Lee Ufan: The Art of Margins, which was held at the Yokohama Museum of Art in 2005.
Lee Ufan at the Alyscamps, Arles, France, 2021
© StudioLeeUfan, photo: Claire Dorn

2022.8.10 Wed. – 11.7 Mon.

Closed: Tuesdays

Opening hours

10:00 - 18:00

*10:00-20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays
*Last admission 30 minutes before closing


The National Art Center, Tokyo
Special Exhibition Gallery 1E

7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8558

  • Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, Nogizaka Station (C05), direct access from Exit 6
  • Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line, Roppongi Station (H04), approximately 5-minute walk from Exit 4a
  • Toei Oedo Subway Line, Roppongi Station (E23), approximately 4-minute walk from Exit 7

*No parking

Organized by

The National Art Center, Tokyo;
The Asahi Shimbun;
Japan Arts Council;
Agency for Cultural Affairs

With the cooperation of



(+81) 47-316-2772(Hello Dial)

Japan Cultural Expo

FY 2022 Japan Cultural Expo Project


2022.12.13 Tue. – 2023.2.12 Sun.



last admission: 30 min. prior to closing


Closed on Mondays (except Jan. 9), Tue., Jan. 10, and during yearend and New Year’s holidays (Sat., Dec. 31–Mon., Jan. 2)


The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art

1-1-1 Wakinohama Kaigan-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe City 651-0073 [Inside HAT Kobe]

  • Hanshin Railway: Walk south for about 8 min. from Iwaya Station
  • JR: Walk south for about 10 min. from the south exit of Nada Station (JR Kobe Line)
  • Hankyu Railway: Walk southwest for about 20 min. from the west exit of Oji-koen Station (Hankyu Kobe Line)
  • Kobe City Bus: Approximately 15 minutes on bus route 29 or 101 from the Sannomiya Sta. Terminal. Get off at the Kenritsu Bijutsukan Mae (Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art).
TEL 078-262-1011
Organized by

the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art,
the Asahi Shimbun,
the Japan Arts Council,
and the Agency for Cultural Affairs

In cooperation with


Co-sponsored by

the Ito Cultural Foundation

With assistance from

the Tadao Ando Cultural Foundation

With special cooperation from

the Hyogo Branch of the Japan Educational Mutual Aid Association

FY 2022 Japan Cultural Expo Project

FY 2022 Japan Cultural Expo Project


Admission(tax included)

1,700 yen (Adults)
1,200 yen (College students)
800 yen (High school students)

  • Visitors who are junior high school students or younger will be admitted for free.
  • Disabled persons (along with the one assistant) will be admitted for free upon presenting the Disabled Person’s Booklet or an equivalent form of government-issued ID.
  • Free entrance to the exhibition for high school students from October 8 (Sat.) to October 10 (Mon.), 2022, upon presenting student ID.
  • Tickets are available through the National Art Center, Tokyo (on sale from August 10, open days only), ONLINE TICKET (on sale from 10:00 on July 27) , Ticket PIA (on sale from 10:00 on July 27).
  • It has been decided that Group Tickets will not be sold for this exhibition.
  • Reduction (100 yen off) applies to visitors who present the ticket stub of a current exhibition at The National Art Center, Tokyo; Suntory Museum of Art; or Mori Art Museum (Art Triangle Roppongi). Please show the ticket stub at the "Lee Ufan, 15th Anniversary of the National Art Center, Tokyo" exhibition ticket booth.
  • Students, faculty and staff of “Campus Members”, can view this exhibition for 1,000 yen (students) and 1,500 yen (faculty/staff). Please purchase tickets at the "Lee Ufan, 15th Anniversary of the National Art Center, Tokyo" exhibition ticket booth.
Admission (tax included)

Adults: 1,600 yen (1,400 yen)
University students: 1,200 yen (1,000 yen)
High school age and younger: Free
Senior citizens (70 and over): 800 yen
Visitors with a disability: 400 yen
University age visitor with a disability: 300 yen

  • Prices given in parentheses indicate discounts for advance tickets. Advance tickets can be purchased from Sat., Oct. 1 to Mon., Dec. 12, 2022.
  • Those wishing to receive a discount are asked to present the appropriate ID card at the museum ticket office.
  • Admission is free for one caregiver accompanying a visitor with a disability.
  • A separate ticket is required to view the permanent collection exhibition.
  • Reserved tickets are not available. When the exhibition is crowded, you may be asked to wait until the number of visitors decreases.
  • To see the exhibition as a group, please contact us at least one month before your visit.

Major Ticket Outlets
Lawson Ticket (L code: 51645), Ticket PIA (P code: 686-203), Seven Ticket (Seven code: 096-988), Rakuten Ticket, E-plus, CN Playguide, etc.

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The National Art Center, Tokyo is proud to host the lecture by Mr. Alfred Pacquement.


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Alfred Pacquement (Profile)
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Online streaming URL Please access to the following URL.
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