Korean abstract painter Park Seo-bo hopes his art will absorb people’s stress


SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) — If art is a form of expression, then the paintings of Park Seo-bo, known as the father of contemporary Korean art, may not be at all art.

The octogenarian opened a new solo exhibition titled “PARK SEO-BO” at Seoul’s Kukje Gallery on Wednesday, showcasing 16 of his “dansaekhwa,” the Korean monochrome paintings he depicts.

Speaking at a press conference at the gallery, Park said the purpose of his paintings was not to reveal or express, but to “empty himself”.

“In the 20th century, (artists) vomited everything they felt onto the canvas under the name of ‘expression'”, says the painter, who will be 90 years old in November.

“Then people would buy the paintings, hang them on their walls, and be assaulted by the images that (the artists) projected. It’s not glorious, it’s fake, these days,” he said. declared.

Park explained that he believes art should bring healing to people who are already under a lot of stress trying to keep up with the fast pace of an increasingly digitized world.

“A painting should not throw itself at the viewer, but like blotting paper absorb the person’s anguish,” he said. “Doing so, the person should feel comfortable and happy.”

Park’s latest exhibition features works from his Late Writing series, all of which were composed from the 2000s using traditional Korean paper, “hanji”, on canvas.

Unlike the white paintings in his early Ecriture series, made in the 1970s and 80s, recent works are often an explosion of intense, vivid colors ranging from neon green to deep crimson red.

Other times, Park borrows softer hues, like pale green, gray, or washed-out shades of blue and purple from the nature he sees around him.

“Everything comes from nature, including the colors,” Park said. “The window displays change every season and the colors you see in the latest fashion styles are all a secondary form of nature. And they are my teachers.”

The six paintings featured in the front gallery are colorful depictions of air, cherry blossoms, canola blossoms and wine, while the 10 paintings in the back gallery evoke the colors of ripe persimmon, oak leaves maple and golden olives.

While his health has prevented him from doing projects that require a lot of body movement, Park says he still works five hours a day in front of an easel and plans to unveil his current project, which he started in 2019, at the Venice Biennale next year.

The exhibition at the Kukje gallery will continue until October 31.

Park’s works are also housed in the collections of renowned institutions around the world, including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Korea; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Center Pompidou, Paris; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; and M+, Hong Kong.


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