Born in 1964, under the military dictatorship of South Korea, Lee Bul graduated in sculpture from Hongik University during the late 1980s. Her most that most impressed us was the artistic chandelier created.
Her works became preoccupied with politics, delving into the many forms of idealism that permeate our civilisations, and from the beginning she created works that crossed genres and disciplines in provocative ways. Early street performance-based pieces saw Lee Bul wearing full-body soft sculptures which were both alluring and grotesque. Her later female Cyborg sculptures of the 1990s drew upon art history, critical theory, science fiction and popular imagination to explore anxieties arising out of dysfunctional technological advances, whilst simultaneously harking back to icons of classical sculpture.
Lee Bul’s more recent works have similarly dual concerns; at once forward-looking yet retrospective, seductive but suggestive of ruin. Sculptures suspended like chandeliers, elaborate assemblages that glimmer with crystal beads, chains and mirrors, poignantly evoke castles in the air. The sculptures reflect utopian architectural schemes of the early twentieth century as well as images of totalitarianism from Lee Bul’s early experiences.
The suspended sculpture, dripping with an excess of crystalline shapes and glass beads, references the exponential growth and unsustainability of the modern world. Unlike Taut’s early twentieth century optimism, Lee Bul conjures up beautiful dreams she knows won’t come true.
An important subject that Lee Bul has been working on since 2005 is the cultural construct of architecture. Her 2007 series ”Sternbau” inspired by futurist architect Bruno Taut’s vision of a crystalline city in the Alps features opulently sparkling, chandelier-like floating castles in the air. Despite the ethereal beauty of it all, it becomes crystal-clear that these architectural models of the future would however, be cold, inhuman and toxic places to live in.
Meet also the Swarovski chandelier exhibiting at Versailles Palace HERE!