Press Release

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.




International exhibitions

International Archives 1st half of 2021

Lee Bae, Union

PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montreal (Canada)

24.02 - 20.06.2021




Exhibition February 24 -June 20, 2021. PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, 451 & 465, Saint-Jean Street - Montréal Quebec H2Y 2R5 (Canada). T +1 514 849 3742. Hours: Thursday–Saturday 10am–9pm







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 30 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, will feature more than 40 recent works that employ a range of approaches. The exhibition will also feature 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.

Curated by Cheryl Sim


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.

Lee Bae, Union, PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montreal

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2021. All Rights Reserved

View of Lee Bae,  Issu du feu, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin. Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli

View of Lee Bae,  Issu du feu, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin. Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli