Lee Ufan’s Relatum – Stage opens at Serpentine Galleries

Once-upon-a-time ‘Rock on Top of Another Rock’ lived in Kensington Gardens Hyde Park outside the Serpentine Galleries. The public sculpture by Swiss artist Fischli & Weiss stayed here until a few years ago, its public life prolonged for its popularity, and it made me smile every time I walked, jogged, or ran past it. It was so simple and so perfect for this magical little corner of London. As seasons changed so did these seemingly hovering Rocks – their mood, their light, their character. One day as I ran past, the two rocks has gone leaving a sad empty space. I changed my running route.

Today I was so excited to see South Korean artist Lee Ufan’s ‘Relatum – Stage’ which went live this morning and will be here until July. It recalls Fischli & Weiss’s work and is a nod to the neolithic monuments in the British countryside – Stonehenge etc. Ufan’s minimalist work uses only two materials – steel and stone – as is characteristic of the Japanese avant-garde Mono-ha group of which he was one of the main proponents in the 1960s. Meaning ‘object school’, the group rejected Western notions of representation, instead focusing on the relationships between materials and perceptions.

Here in Hyde Park the two cold, angled, mirrored, steel sheets and tactile Welsh stones together reflect and blend in with the surroundings. In focusing on the precise conceptual and spatial juxtaposition of the natural and industrial materials, Ufan seeks to find a balance that heightens the moment of encounter, allowing us to see ‘the world as it is,’ he says. ‘The highest level of expression is not to create something from nothing, but rather to nudge something that already exists so that the world shows up more vividly.’

Relatum – Stage will be at the Serpentine Galleries, Kensington Gardens until 29 July.
Photographs © Lee Ufan, Photograph © Ian Gavan/Getty Images.

Nargess Banks

Read my interview with the Serpentine Galleries chief executive Yana Peel here.

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