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Lee Bae
© Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Perrotin. Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli

Lee Bae: UNION

  • Exhibition
  • Contemporary Art
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PHI Foundation 451 & 465 Saint-Jean Street
Montréal, Québec H2Y 2R5

Wednesday to Sunday:
11 AM to 6 PM

Free admission Reservations required

Curated by

The PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art is pleased to present the exhibition Lee Bae: UNION.

Born in South Korea, artist Lee Bae uprooted himself and relocated to Paris in 1989. The displacement from the familiar surroundings of his home country activated an engagement with memory, which would become his main matière. This deeper union with the Self would ultimately reacquaint the artist with charcoal as a physical, mental, and spiritual extension of memory.

Dissatisfied with the conventional slender sticks typically used in drawing, one day Lee Bae bought a simple bag of charcoal briquettes. Drawing with these compressed lumps of fuel brought him back to the very first time he started painting. He reconnected with the significance of the colour black in Asian civilization—the colour that expresses all colour. He was reminded of the soot-based India ink used in Korean calligraphy and recalled charcoal’s use as a purifying agent in Korean homes. Furthermore, he recognized charcoal as a powerful metaphor for the cycle of life and death.

For nearly thirty years, Lee Bae has engaged with the formal and conceptual properties of charcoal to create paintings, drawing, sculpture, and installation. This major solo exhibition, his first in Canada, features more than 40 recent works that employ a range of approaches. The exhibition also features a large-scale installation that calls attention to the corporeality of his work and its ability to connect us to a soulful place. Lee Bae’s dedication to presence requires our own, offering a moment of respite and contemplation.

Special thanks to Carlotta Battistini and Peggy Leboeuf at Galerie Perrotin


Lee bae portrait
Lee Bae, Atelier, Paris, 2016

Lee Bae
Lee Bae (b. 1956, Cheongdo, South Korea) has had more than 40 solo exhibitions and numerous group shows in museums and biennials in Europe, Asia, and the United States, including the 2016 Gwangju Biennale. In 2013, he received the National Association Prize of Art Critics (Korea), and in 2019, he was named a Chevalier of France’s Order of Arts and Letters. He works and lives between Paris and Seoul.


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Launch: COMM_UNION – Lee Bae’s artwork interpreted through dance

June 3, 2021

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Severing the Impact on Memory – Online Video Program

May 19, 2021

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Workshop: Drawn to Fire: Charcoal Rubbings and Sowing Seeds

May 2, 2021

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A Call with the Curator – Lee Bae: UNION

Apr. 14—June 16, 2021

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Absence à main levée/Freehand Absence/Ausencia a mano alzada

Apr. 6, 2021

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Nico Williams – aandaabikinigan

Feb. 24—June 20, 2021

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A Presentation of Lee Bae: UNION with Cheryl Sim

Feb. 17, 2021

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Education Program

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Group Visits and Online Discussions

Lee Bae: UNION

Our online educational programming is available for the exhibition Lee Bae: UNION, and can be adapted to your situation and needs. These online presentations are tailored for elementary, high school, CEGEPs, university and community groups.

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Public Engagement Project


The Foundation will invite Marjolaine Bourdua, Emma Haraké, Kama La Mackerel, and Helena Martin Franco to use its education room as a work space and to reactivate our archives through different interventions. The public will be able to gradually discover these projects during the four months of the exhibition Lee Bae: UNION.

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Activity Kit

Lee Bae: UNION

This kit for children aged 6 to 11 includes reproductions of Lee Bae’s artwork for your children to look at, along with art activities you can do with them at home. These activities will allow you to explore gesture, transformation, the five senses, the colour black and contemplation.

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Movements Series

Lee Bae: UNION

Through these essays and short videos, explore the following key concepts of the exhibition Lee Bae: UNION: process, ecology, mind and body, as well as heritage/ritual. This section will be updated throughout the duration of the exhibition.

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Creating at Home Series

Lee Bae: UNION

The Creating at Home series offers three video vignettes where the PHI Foundation’s educators present art activities proposed in the Activity Kit — Lee Bae: UNION.

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Installation Views

Related Videos

Audio Guide

  • Lee Bae – Introduction

  • Lee Bae – G1: Charcoal

  • Lee Bae – G1: Issu du feu (sculpture)

  • Lee Bae – G1: Issu du feu (canvas)

  • Lee Bae – G2: Untitled (installation)

  • Lee Bae – G3: Brushstroke Series

  • Lee Bae – G3: Dessin

  • Lee Bae – G4: Burning a house of moon

  • Lee Bae – G6: Issu du feu (installation)

  • Lee Bae – G6: Untitled (painting)

  • Lee Bae – G5: Issu du feu (charcoal forest)

  • Lee Bae – G5: Landscape Series

  • Lee Bae – Conclusion

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