Perrotin New York presents Promenade, an exhibition from Korean artist Lee Bae, based in Paris, France and Cheongdo, South Korea. For his first solo presentation with Perrotin New York, the artist has created a physically immersive environment that expands upon his ongoing aesthetic and material experiments with charcoal. This concise collection of drawings, paintings, and sculptures represents three distinct bodies of work: Issu du feu, Landscape, and his most recent works on paper, Untitled.
Charcoal has figured prominently in Lee Bae’s practice since 1990, when the artist first moved to Paris and took up the ubiquitous material out of economic necessity. In this time of transition, charcoal also provided a cultural link to home, recalling the soot-based India ink used in Korean calligraphy but also the material’s many domestic applications: In Korea, it has been used in homes as a natural purifying agent for thousands of years. Lee Bae continues to engage charcoal with formal and conceptual rigor, creating stunning works of art that draw out nuanced meaning from the ancient matter.
Forming the centerpiece of Promenade is an installation of 24 sculptures from the artist’s Issu du feu series. Arranged in a modernist grid above pale sheets of mulberry paper, their formal placement evokes minimalism’s austere serial installations. However, Lee Bae’s works are not industrially produced, but created through profoundly personal and organic means of production. Sourced from his hometown of Cheongdo, South Korea where the artist also maintains a studio, Lee Bae carefully selects the pine trees that he then burns for two weeks in a custom-made kiln, transforming the verdant wood into brittle, black totems. Wrapped in elastic bands, these freshly carbonized forms reflect the fragile equilibrium between destruction and renewal. Viewers are invited to wander through this charged space, approaching the installation as a site of contemplation.