The term Dansaekhwa, or “monochrome painting,” may elude readers unfamiliar with Korean, but it represents arguably Korea’s most important art movement of the late 20th century. The artists who practiced this approach to painting began to emerge in the early 1970s, when the Republic of Korea was still under a military dictatorship. They included Park Seobo, Ha Chong-hyun, Yun Hyong-keun, Kim Whanki, Chung Chang-sup, Chung Sang-hwa, and Lee Ufan, among others.
These painters were dissatisfied with the cultural lassitude in South Korea and began painting in a manner that challenged the normative aesthetic to which most Koreans were accustomed. At the outset, the artists worked independently without a group name or identity. It wasn’t until a 1980 exhibition at the Gwangju City Art Museum that the term Dansaekhwa was introduced.