Photo © Lee Ufan, photo:Shu Nakagawa
15th Anniversary of the National Art Center, Tokyo


Lee Ufan
2022.8.10[Wed.] - 11.7[Mon.]
The National Art Center, Tokyo
[Special Exhibition Gallery 1E]
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.

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. Also, a large-scale stone and stainless steel work will be installed in the venue’s open-air exhibition space.

Appearing at the beginning of the exhibition are Landscape I, Landscape II and Landscape III (all 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
    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. imately 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
  • Relatum-The mirror road
    Relatum-The mirror road
    Stone, stainless steel
    Collection of the artist
    Installation view: Lee Ufan: Requiem, The Alyscamps, Arles, France, 2021
    © Claire Dorn, Courtesy Lee Ufan and Lisson Gallery

In 2014, Lee had a solo exhibition at the Palais de Versailles in France. Relatum – the Arch of Versailles, an enormous stainless-steel arch supported by two stones on either side, was installed outdoors at the site and drew widespread attention. After passing beneath one of Lee’s huge arches, the viewer is sure to experience their surrounding environment in a new way. In 2019, Porte vers l’infini was permanently installed in the town of Naoshima, Kagawa Prefecture. For the current exhibition, a new arched sculpture will be unveiled in the open-air exhibition space of the National Art Center, Tokyo.

  • Relatum – The Arch of Versailles
    Relatum – The Arch of Versailles
    Stone and stainless steel
    Collection of the artist
    Photo: Archives kamel mennour
    Courtesy the artist, kamel mennour, Paris, Pace, New York

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
    Pigment and glue on canvas
    The National Museum of Art, Osaka
  • 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.

  • With Winds
    With Winds
    Oil on canvas
    The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
  • Response
    Acrylic on canvas
    291 × 218 cm
    Collection of the artist
    Photo: Shu Nakagawa
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.


The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art


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.
Online Ticket

Coming Soon












2021年10月1日 施行




・Windows(10以上): FireFox、Google Chrome、Microsoft Edge
・Mac: Safari

・Android端末: Android6.0以上のスマートフォン標準搭載のブラウザー
・iOS端末: iOS11.x 以上のスマートフォン標準搭載のブラウザー


・Adobe Acrobat Reader DC








・Google Analytics
「Google Analytics」は、Google社が提供するウェブ解析ツールで、Cookie、ウェブビーコン、またはそれらに類似するテクノロジーによって利用者情報を収集しています。Google Analyticsについては、 (※外部サイト)をご覧ください。
なお、Google Analyticsによる利用者情報の収集を希望されない場合は、Google社が提供する「Google アナリティクス オプトアウト アドオン」を使用中のブラウザーにインストールすることで、無効にすることができます。Googleアナリティクスを無効にするには※外部サイト)をご覧ください。