Couvent de la Tourette

Lee Ufan

September – December 2017

Curator: Marc Chauveau

The Convent of La Tourette was built in the Lyon region in the 1950s by Le Corbusier. The Dominicans who inhabit it, and who are keen that it should remain open to the world of today, have been holding contemporary art exhibitions there for nine years. Their bold choice of architect more than half a century ago is matched today by their vision in organising exhibitions that are conceived as encounters between the works of a visual artist and the architecture of Le Corbusier. The aim is to foster a fruitful dialogue between the architectural heritage and contemporary creation. The artists invited in previous years are: François Morellet (2009) ; Vera Molnar, Ian Tyson and Stéphane Couturier (2010) ; Alan Charlton (2011) ; Éric Michel (2012) ; Anne and Patrick Poirier (2013), Philippe Favier (2014), Anish Kapoor (2015), and the collective exhibition Formes du silence in 2016, which brought together Geneviève Asse, Jaromir Novotný, Friederike von Rauch and Michel Verjux.

On the occasion of the 2017 Biennale, Lee Ufan (1936, South Korea), one of the most influential Korean contemporary artists on the international scene, has been invited to create a dialogue with the convent architecture. In his sculptural work, Lee Ufan, brings together antagonistic elements. He confronts natural materials (wood, stone, cotton) with industrial materials (metal, glass, mirrors) and plays with notions of emptiness, space and energy. Through (the balance of) their contrasts, the elements reveal their shape, their mass and their relationship with the surrounding space. Lee Ufan has exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Tate Modern in London, the Kunstmuseum, Bonn and the Yokohama Art Museum. He also took over the Château de Versailles in spring 2014.

What has been done at La Tourette is unique on the French art scene. The vocation of the place reflects something that, in some way, does not exist anywhere else, namely the peculiarity of an alliance that brings together Corbusier’s architecture, religious life, everyday life, and contemporary art. The exhibitions over the last few years showed how naturally artworks find their place in the convent; they established what always proved to be a genuine dialogue with the architecture. The result has been a renewal of people’s gaze, both on the building and on the works. This harmony between a living spiritual place, the architectural quality of the convent and the artistic quality of the selected works, makes each encounter a unique experience. The works are not exhibited; they "inhabit" the convent. They take on the sense of a presence in a place which is itself inhabited.


Le Couvent de La Tourette, ©Frère Marc Chauveau

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