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b. 1931, South Korea

Park Seo-Bo Biography

One of the most significant artists in modern Korean history, Park Seo-Bo was born in 1931 in Yecheon, Gyeongbuk, South Korea. As a young artist in the 1950s, Park was among the first to introduce abstraction to Korean art and is best known as a founding figure of the art movement, Dansaekhwa.

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Dansaekhwa, also known as baeksaekpa (the School of White), refers to a group of paintings in Korean art that began to appear in the late 1950s and fully emerged in the art world by the mid-1970s. Translated as 'monochrome paintings', Dansaekhwa is characterised by minimal colour palettes, repetitive gestures and manipulation of the canvas or paper through soaking, tearing, pulling and other techniques. Park and contemporaries such as Lee Ufan, Chung Chang-Sup and Kwon Young-Woo began incorporating abstract motifs and unconventional techniques in their works as a reaction against the prevailing academicism. Dansaekhwa was also a response to the unstable conditions in the country at the time; 35 years of Japanese Occupation and the Korean War had been replaced by a conspicuous American presence. Many artists expressed their perception of a changing Korean cultural identity through paintings that wedded Western and Eastern techniques. Despite its introduction as a 'movement' to the West, however, Dansaekhwa was never an official movement and the term itself was coined in retrospect by the curator and scholar Yoon Jin Sup in 2000.

Although abstraction in Korean art was influenced by North American Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism, Park's paintings are not an uncritical absorption of outside influences but rather a negotiation between the traditional and the new. 'Ecriture'—his most famous and ongoing series conceived in the 1960s—uses Western Modernist techniques of painting on traditional Korean hanji paper. In early works, Park used a pencil or a stylus to make repetitive marks on the canvas, but since the 1980s he has been manipulating the pulp of hanji paper while its surface is wet. Myobop—as 'Ecriture' paintings are known in the Korean language—means 'law of drawing', a phrase that reveals the artist's interest in Taoist and Buddhist philosophies. Further nicknamed 'the journey of the hand', the process of repetition eliminates individual gestures and becomes one of meditation.

Paintings in the 'Ecriture' series have experienced stylistic changes over the years. Park's work from the 1990s and early 2000s were black and white, two of the most important colours in East Asian philosophy—black represents time and pure emptiness, while white alludes to death spirituality and the void. Since 2002, Park has incorporated other colours as well, using acrylic paint to mould linear patterns on the wet pulp of hanji paper. From a distance, these monochrome paintings appear to be one colour or empty. Borrowing the language of abstraction, rejecting painterly codes from Western Modernism and combining these methodologies with Eastern philosophies, Park attempts to capture and convey the 'ideal of emptiness or "no mind"', according to a press release from Tina Kim Gallery's 2016 solo exhibition of Park's work.

Park has also led an impressive career as an educator of art in South Korea. Between 1962 and 1994, he taught as a professor at Hongik University, Seoul—one of the most prestigious institutions of art in the country and his alma mater (from which he graduated in 1954). In 1986 he became the Dean of the College of Fine Arts, a position he would hold until 1990. Park continues to participate in the contemporary Korean art scene through his Seo-Bo Art and Cultural Foundation, Seoul-based and founded in 1994.

Park's work has been recognised both nationally and internationally. He has exhibited in many institutions across Asia, the USA and Europe, and has exhibited twice at the Venice Biennale (2015, 1988). Referred to as the father of Dansaekhwa, Park's paintings have been included in several group exhibitions, including When process becomes form: Dansaekhwa and Korean abstraction, the Boghossian Foundation, Brussels (2016); Dansaekhwa and Minimalism, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles (2016); and Dansaekhwa, a Collateral Event of the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). Park was awarded the President's Citation in 1972 and received the Silver Crown Cultural Medal for his services toward the advancement of contemporary art in Korea in 2011.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2017

Exhibition view: Group Exhibition, Writing Beyond, Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp (16 May–29 August 2020). Courtesy Axel Vervoordt Gallery.

Park Seo-Bo Featured Artworks

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Ecriture (描法) No.170528 by Park Seo-Bo contemporary artwork
Park Seo-BoEcriture (描法) No.170528, 2017Mixed media with Korean hanji paper on canvas
100 x 145 cm
Kukje Gallery Contact Gallery
Ecriture No. 060726 by Park Seo-Bo contemporary artwork
Park Seo-BoEcriture No. 060726, 2006Mixed media with Korean hanji paper on canvas
130 x 162 cm
Tina Kim Gallery Contact Gallery
Ecriture No. 060730 by Park Seo-Bo contemporary artwork
Park Seo-BoEcriture No. 060730, 2006Mixed media with Korean hanji paper on canvas
130 x 162 cm
Tina Kim Gallery Contact Gallery
Ecriture (描法) No. 120213 by Park Seo-Bo contemporary artwork
Park Seo-BoEcriture (描法) No. 120213, 2012Mixed media with Korean hanji paper on canvas
170 x 130 cm
Kukje Gallery Contact Gallery
Ecriture (描法) No. 081110 by Park Seo-Bo contemporary artwork
Park Seo-BoEcriture (描法) No. 081110, 2008Mixed media with Korean hanji paper on canvas
130 x 195 cm
Kukje Gallery Contact Gallery
Ecriture No.061210 by Park Seo-Bo contemporary artwork
Park Seo-BoEcriture No.061210, 2006Mixed media with Korean hanji paper on canvas
165 x 260 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
Ecriture No.090930 by Park Seo-Bo contemporary artwork
Park Seo-BoEcriture No.090930, 2009Mixed media with Korean hanji paper on canvas
130 x 195 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery
Ecriture No.080623 by Park Seo-Bo contemporary artwork
Park Seo-BoEcriture No.080623, 2008Mixed media with Korean hanji paper on canvas
130 x 195 cm
Perrotin Contact Gallery

Park Seo-Bo Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Writing Beyond at Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp
Open Now
16 May–29 August 2020 Group Exhibition Writing Beyond Axel Vervoordt GalleryAntwerp
Contemporary art exhibition, Park Seo-Bo, Ecriture at Perrotin, Paris
Closed
12 October–21 December 2019 Park Seo-Bo Ecriture PerrotinParis

Park Seo-Bo Represented By

Kukje Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Kukje Gallery Busan, Seoul
P21 contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea P21 Seoul
Perrotin contemporary art gallery in Paris, France Perrotin Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo
Tina Kim Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Tina Kim Gallery New York

Park Seo-Bo In Ocula Magazine

Park Seo-Bo Ocula Conversation Park Seo-Bo By Ines Min, Seoul

Park Seo-Bo is widely recognised as the godfather of modern Korean art. The artist played an instrumental role in nurturing the careers of emerging artists and for his own contribution to the formation of Dansaekhwa—the Korean monochromatic painting movement that emerged in the mid-1970s. In the spring of 2018, Park was recognised with the...

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Top 5 booths at Art Busan 2016 Ocula Report Top 5 booths at Art Busan 2016 By Angela Suh, Busan

Located a stones throw from the famed Haeundae Beach, popularised in Korean cinema and countless K-dramas, Art Busan 2016 conveyed a leisurely air brought on by the first warm days of spring. Now in its fifth edition, the fair has grown into a sizeable event showcasing some of the best works in the region. With over 190 participating galleries...

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Beyond Influence: The Legacy of Korean Monochrome Painting Ocula Report Beyond Influence: The Legacy of Korean Monochrome Painting By Stephanie Bailey, London

'One thing to remember about Tansaekhwa is that it was never an official movement,' Joan Kee, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, explains in an email interview. 'There was no manifesto, no declaration—not even a series of exhibitions consciously organized under that rubric.' 

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Park Seo-Bo In Related Press

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Ha Chong-Hyun at Almine Rech Gallery, Paris Related Press Ha Chong-Hyun at Almine Rech Gallery, Paris 23 May 2017, ArtAsiaPacific

At Almine Rech Gallery in Paris, 21 of the artist's paintings, the majority of which were created in the past four years, demonstrated Ha's ability to imbue paint with the qualities of sculpture. The artist uses a methodical, labor-intensive process to create energetic paintings on hemp cloth, recalling the sacks of aid supplies distributed to...

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Monochrome and minimalism: 6 Dansaekhwa artists in New York Related Press Monochrome and minimalism: 6 Dansaekhwa artists in New York 23 May 2016, Art Radar

Dansaekhwa, or Korean monochrome art, is characterised by painting in a single colour, textured and with simplified images. Featured as a collateral event of the 56th Venice Biennale (2015), the art form has also generated interest in the western world through recent exhibitions such as From All Sides: Tansaekhwa on Abstraction (Blum & Poe...

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Dansaekhwa and Korean Abstraction at Boghossian Foundation in Brussels Related Press Dansaekhwa and Korean Abstraction at Boghossian Foundation in Brussels 21 February 2016, Blouin Artinfo

Opening at the Boghossian Foundation’s Villa Empain in Brussels this weekend is When Process Becomes Form: Dansaekhwa and Korean Abstraction, the first exhaustive exhibition of the Korean Dansaekhwa movement in Belgium, featuring some fifty works by seven of its leading proponents: Chung Chang-Sup, Chung Sang-Hwa, Ha Chong-Hyun, Kim Whanki...

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Park Seo-Bo, Ecriture 1967-1981, White Cube Mason's Yard, London Related Press Park Seo-Bo, Ecriture 1967-1981, White Cube Mason's Yard, London 10 February 2016, Aesthetica Magazine

Korean artist Park Seo-Bo receives his first solo exhibition in the UK at White Cube Mason’s Yard. Widely considered one of the leading figures in contemporary Korean art, alongside Lee Ufan and Kim Tschang Yeul, and credited as being the father of the “Dansaekhwa” or Korean Monochrome movement, he is best known for his Ecriture...

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Park Seo-Bo In Video & Audio

Zoe Chun, Kukje Gallery on Deductive Object at Art Basel Hong Kong Related Video & Audio Zoe Chun, Kukje Gallery on Deductive Object at Art Basel Hong Kong 27 March 2017, CoBo

CoBo speaks to Zoe Chun, Communication Director of Kukje Gallery – CoBo Challenge at Art Basel Hong Kong 2017.

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