6 impasse saint Claude – 75003 Paris
and 76 rue de Turenne – 75003 Paris
January 8, 2022 — February 26, 2022


January 8 — February 26, 2022

For this second exhibition at the Perrotin gallery in Paris and the fifth
in this same gallery on the international scene, Lee Bae has chosen
to show five series of works as well as a large installation, all
recounting his last twenty years of work.

We find the series Issu du feu, with its famous paintings made with pieces
of charcoal; Landscape, defined by these large abstract landscapes radi-
cally separated into two spaces, one white, the other black; Untitled,
composed of canvases designed with charcoal ink and acrylic medium.
And we discover two new series, never before shown in France: the first,
Brushstroke, composed of large-scale papers from which emerge shapes
painted in charcoal ink; and the second, Issu du feu (White lines), cha-
racterized by pieces of charcoal on canvas topped with small white lines.

The ensemble reminds and highlights that—whatever the medium, the
techniques, the disciplines—Lee Bae’s work, since its beginnings in
1990, affirms the same purpose: the quest for black. Black in all its states,
in all its forms, in all its lights, in all its depths and even sometimes in its

In Issu du feu, black—the blacks, we should say, as Lee Bae represents
their range from deep black to almost light gray—evoked by the multiple
pieces of charcoal that the artist juxtaposes and sticks together, reveals
itself under multiple facets: he plays with its shine, with it iridescent
effects, with its pearly aspects born from the impression of movements
on the surface.

In Untitled it is the opposite: black is shown in its depths, born from the
density of the charcoal ink used to draw shapes and heightened by the
contrast with the white surfaces that define their outlines. Like a black
hole, the tones of black pull the eye into endless perspectives – a call that
we also feel with the Landscape series, whose radical geometric compo-
sitions, sometimes like cliff edges, create an echo between black and
white to further intensify their juxtaposition.

In his recent large works on paper, Lee Bae puts movement in his blacks
and deploys the gradations of their transparency. Contrary to the Untitled
series where each shape is meticulously drawn several times superim-
posed, in Brushstroke, each shape or symbol drawn in charcoal ink is the
result of a single gesture, without possibility of remorse and of an abso-
lute brilliance that combines both mental concentration and corporeal
control. Close to calligraphy, this writing, which in its way relates to a tra-
ditional method, testifies at the same time to a highly contemporary spirit
and an immanent touch and presence.

For Issu du feu (White lines), Lee Bae resumes his compositions with
pieces of charcoal, but he forms a pattern and punctuates them on the
surface with small lines in white oil pastel, like commas on a blackboard.
In this way, he puts black in the background and gives it even more pers-

Finally, in his installations, always made with burnt wood or charcoal, Lee
Bae puts black in relief. He puts it in a ball, in a bundle, or in a point to
show that black can also be perceived as modeled, as protuberance. And
that whatever its aspect, this color with its innumerable nuances allows
him to speak about time, space, energy, body, soul. And thus, about life.


Henri-François Debailleux
December 2021

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