Since the 18th century, Sèvres has invited artists to work in their ateliers in cooperation with their staff of working artisans, opening-up the process at all stages from the development of the material to the finishing techniques. Although Lee has been working with ceramics since the 1970s, he first discovered Sèvres in 1996. Lee Ufan: Ceramics is the result of a two-year collaboration with Manufacture de Sèvres, which began in 2014.
For this exhibition, Lee continues to demonstrate his philosophical concerns regarding materiality and existence, imbuing a sense of respectful intervention to the essential properties of the medium of clay. At the same time, it is the artist’s encounter with fire, an unconcerned participant yet a vital link to the process that creates a sense of phenomenon to the works. The range of sculpture in the show exhibits Lee’s dynamic engagement with this practice. New works on porcelain tiles show a use of color and brush that recalls the artist’s Dialogue series. His concept of composition in these works as exposing the connection between the unmarked and the gesture in turn emphasize the relationship of the object to the environment in which it sits. In contrast, Lee’s terracotta works disrupt the three-dimensional surface in a variety of ways, creating an interplay between perception and space.
For the artist, his "initial intention [in making these ceramic works] is the fragment, ruin and the distortion of meaning and usage." On view in the exhibition will be a sculpture, standing at over five feet and made entirely of broken fragments and powder from ceramic works that were intentionally shattered. The amassing of these broken elements is topped with a "perfect" vessel, which at once depicts destruction and creation through the passage of time.