Minimalist Art Graces the Lawns at the Palace of Versailles
By: Janelle Zara
Grandeur and simplicity meet in Korean artist Lee Ufan’s series of installations at the Palace of Versailles
The opulent splendor of the Palace of Versailles’s Baroque architecture and meticulously sculpted lawns might seem the polar opposite of Lee Ufan’s minimalist art. Despite this contrast, however, the Korean-born painter and sculptor’s “Relatum,” a ten-part series of installations dotting the palatial grounds through November 2, plays harmoniously with its extravagant surroundings.
Following the tenets of the Japanese Mono-ha movement, Ufan, who splits his time between studios in Paris and Kamakura, Japan, used but two basic ingredients for his pieces: stone and steel, respective symbols of nature and industry. With very little intervention, he’s situated them in weighty vignettes, beginning with a 98-foot-long, 39-foot-high arch of curved steel anchored by two boulders at the top of the Gabriel staircase. From there, “Relatum” descends into the garden with a series of steel plates rippling down the length of the central lawn, and continues in the quiet alleyways of the mazelike groves.
Each installation creates dialogues between the contemporary aesthetics and the sculpted gardens designed by the great André Le Nôtre. The works, Ufan writes in the show’s artist statement, “whisper like a scene in the desert.”