Renowned Korean Artist Park Seo-bo Passes Away at 92

Monday, October 16, 2023
Renowned Korean Artist Park Seo-bo Passes Away at 92

Renowned Korean artist Park Seo-bo, a prominent figure in the development of the dansaekhwa movement, passed away at the age of 92 on Saturday. Earlier this year, Park revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer and chose not to undergo treatment to continue his artistry.

Park entered the art scene in the late 1950s as part of an avant-garde movement of young Korean artists that emerged at a time of political upheaval. Park first presented his work in New York in 1957 as part of an exhibition of contemporary Korean art. This presentation brought Park and the little-known Korean art scene international attention.

Park pioneered dansaekhwa, a genre of monochrome paintings and a movement led by a loose group of Korean artists in the late 1960s and 1970s. Dansaekhwa would later become the first contemporary Korean art genre to break through internationally.

He came to international attention at the dansaekhwa exhibition at the 2015 Venice Biennale, where a former director of London's White Cube gallery first encountered his art. Park is also represented by the UK gallery.

His works are in the collection of prestigious museums around the world, including New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, Chicago Art Institute, Pompidou Center in Paris and Hong Kong's M+

In a 2020 interview with The Korea Herald at Gizi Art Base in Seoul, where he lived and worked, Park stressed three notions in dansaekhwa paintings: purposeless action in art, a repetitive exercise in meditation and material properties created out of the meditative action.

His early “Ecriture” series started with pencil works that involved repeatedly drawing lines with a pencil on a canvas covered with white oil paint. Later, the zigzag "Ecriture" of the 1980s and the color "Ecriture" of the 2000s followed.

In the 2000s, Park started incorporating “hanji” -- Korea's traditional mulberry paper known for its high absorption rate -- to his late "Ecriture" series, creating works reminiscent of the traditional rice farming readily found in rural areas.

Park admired nature and pursued natural quality, which was reflected in his art. Although the term “danskaehwa” was established in the art scene, Park himself did not like the term, as it could be taken to simply mean monochrome paintings. If he could name the art genre again, it would be something like “working with nature” the artist told The Korea Herald.

The term dansaekhwa stuck after the Gwangju Biennale in 2000, as art critic Yon Jin-sup applied the term to artists of the monochrome style of paintings.

Park continued developing his signature "Ecriture" series on which he worked for the past 55 years. In recent years he created "Ecriture" series in ceramics in collaboration with ceramists.

Image : Park Seo-Bo foundation

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