Lee Bul transformed Hayward Gallery into a spectacular dream-like landscape featuring monstrous bodies, futuristic cyborgs, glittering mirrored environments and an exquisitely surreal monumental foil Zeppelin.
Bringing together more than 100 works from the late 1980s to the present day, this exhibition explored the full range of Lee Bul’s pioneering and thought-provoking practice, from provocative early performances to recent large-scale installations that attempt to get our body and our brain ‘working at the same time, together’.
For the past three decades, Lee Bul has drawn on diverse sources that include science fiction, visionary architecture and personal experience, whilst making use of deliberately clashing materials that range from silk and mother of pearl to fibreglass and silicone. At the core of her most recent work is an investigation into landscape, which for the artist includes the intimate landscape of the body, ideal or fictional landscapes and the physical world that surrounds us.
This exhibition coincided with Hayward Gallery’s 50th Anniversary in July. In her ambitious site-specific installation Weep into stones (2017–18), Lee Bul responded to both the fabric of the Hayward and its radical design by draping the gallery in a shimmering curtain of fine steel wire, crystal and glass.
The Lee Bul exhibition was generously supported by The Korea Foundation, Swarovski and The Henry Moore Foundation.
Born in South Korea in 1964 to leftist parents at odds with the authoritarian government then in power, Lee Bul spent much of her childhood fleeing persecution and moving between temporary homes. Often feeling like an outsider in these new environments, she found relief in drawing and in making.
In 1984, Lee Bul enrolled at Hongik University in Seoul to study sculpture, where she also developed an interest in theatre. In 1987, she graduated from art school and founded Museum, a loose collective of artists and musicians. She presented her first public performance in 1988 and continued to produce provocative performance works involving her own body for the following decade.
In 1997, Lee Bul was invited to exhibit Majestic Splendor – a work consisting of rows of sequinned, decomposing fish – at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. A year later she was selected as a finalist for the Hugo Boss Prize by the Guggenheim Museum, New York, where she presented her influential Cyborg series for the first time. In 1999, she became the first woman to represent Korea at the Venice Biennale.
Since then, Lee Bul has had major solo exhibitions at museums and galleries across the world, including the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2002), Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2007), Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012), MUDAM, Luxembourg (2013), the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2014) and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2014). She lives and works in Seoul, from a hilltop studio overlooking the city below.
To access the gallery, foyer, cafe and shop, use the JCB Glass Lift (Blue Side Foyers, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall) exit onto Riverside Terrace and use main entrance into Hayward Gallery. All floors are accessible from main foyer. Please use the main foyer lift to access the Gallery Cafe.
We welcome wheelchair users and guide companion dogs. Wheelchairs and gallery stools are available for visitors by visiting the Hayward Gallery cloakroom when you arrive (subject to availability).
Talk to a member of staff at the foyer entrance if you have a disability that means you can’t queue, or you need extra assistance.
Due to the nature of the Lee Bul exhibition, bags of 40 x 25 x 25 cm and over will not be allowed in the exhibition. A cloakroom is available in the Hayward Gallery foyer at a charge of £1 per item. Items left here are at the owner’s risk and we cannot accept any responsibility for loss or damage from any cause to items left in the cloakroom. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
Toilets are located in the foyer and inside the gallery. An accessible toilet and gender neutral inclusive toilets are located in the foyer.
A Changing Places toilet is located on Level 1, Royal Festival Hall, next to the JCB Glass Lift, for the exclusive use of disabled people who need personal assistance to use the toilet. The key for this room is available from the Welcome Hub, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall. The facility includes a height-adjustable bench, tracking hoist system, a centrally-placed toilet, a height-adjustable basin and a shower. For health and safety reasons we do not provide slings. Visitors are asked to bring their own which should be compatible with the loop system. The maximum weight for the hoist and the height adjustable bench is 200kg. The facility is open daily 10am – 11pm.
Blue Badge holders and those with access requirements can be dropped off on the Queen Elizabeth Hall slip road off Belvedere Road (the road between Royal Festival Hall and Hayward Gallery).
The Hayward car park is now closed to cars. Alternative parking is available nearby at the National Theatre car park (330 metres) and APCOA Cornwall Road Car Park(490 metres), subject to charges. Alternative parking for Blue Badge holders visiting Southbank Centre can be found at the National Theatre car park (330 metres). Just take your badge and car park ticket to Royal Festival Hall Ticket Office on Level 2, for validation before you leave.
Please note: on Sunday when the National Theatre building is closed there is no step-free access from the car park.
Alternative parking for Blue Badge holders visiting Southbank Centre can also be found at the South Bank Car Park – APCOA Cornwall Road Car Park. Just take your badge and car park ticket to the parking attendant office at the entrance to the car park for validation before you leave.
A drop-off point at Royal Festival Hall (30 metres) has been created for visitors who are unable to walk from alternative car parks.
The Lee Bul exhibition at Hayward Gallery was generously supported by The Korea Foundation, Swarovski and The Henry Moore Foundation.