Park Seo-Bo is widely considered one of the leading figures in contemporary Korean art. Credited as being the father of the ‘Dansaekhwa’ movement. Born in 1931 in Yecheon, Gyeongbuk, Park was part of a generation that was deeply affected by the Korean War (1950–53) which divided the country into North and South. After experimenting with Western abstraction, particularly the style of ‘Art Informel’ with which he became familiar during his time in Paris in 1961, Park began to explore a more introspective methodology that had its origins in Taoist and Buddhist philosophy and also in the Korean tradition of calligraphy.
Park is best known for his ‘Ecriture’ series of paintings. First begun in the late 1960s, the ‘Ecriture’ series embrace this spiritual approach and are inextricably linked to notions of time, space and material, concepts which underpin all of the artist’s work. In the early works, Park used repeated pencil lines incised into a still-wet monochromatic painted surface, and the later works expand upon this language through the introduction of hanji, a traditional Korean paper hand-made from mulberry bark, which is adhered to the canvas surface. This development, along with the introduction of colour, enabled an expansive transformation of his practice while continuing the quest for emptiness though reduction.
Park Seo-Bo graduated from the painting department of Hong-Ik University in Seoul in 1954. He became Dean of the University in 1973 and received an Honorary Doctorate from there in 2000. He has been widely lauded throughout his career for championing Korean art, and recieved the Art Society Asia Game Changer Awards in 2018 and Silver Crown Cultural Medal in Korea in 2011. His work has been exhibited internationally, including: Langen Foundation, Neuss (2020); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2019); Museum of Fine Art, Boston (2018); the Venice Biennale (1988 and 2015); Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2014); Portland Museum of Art, Oregon (2010); Singapore Art Museum (2008); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2007); Tate Liverpool, UK (1992); Brooklyn Museum, New York (1981), and Expo ’67, Montreal (1967). His work is included in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; M+, Hong Kong; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, UAE; The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul; and the K20, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, amongst others.
17 March – 1 May 2021
White Cube Bermondsey
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White Cube is pleased to present a major exhibition of works by Park Seo-Bo. Born in 1931 in Yecheon, Gyeongbuk, Park was part of a generation that spent its childhood under Japanese occupation and came to adulthood in the turmoil and deprivations of the Korean War (1950–53). First enrolled as a student of oriental painting at Hongik University in Seoul, after the interruption of war Park resumed his studies in the department of Western painting, then pursuing his interest in Art Informel during a stay in Paris in 1961. Following his return home, Park played a critical role in reshaping the post-war Korean art world as an educator, agitator and organiser. He went on to develop a practice rooted in a spiritual methodology, drawing on Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist philosophy as well as the Korean tradition of calligraphy, and is recognised internationally as the father of the ‘Dansaekhwa’ movement.
The two earliest works in the exhibition date from 1968, immediately preceeding Park’s best-known ‘Ecriture’ series. Around this time Park was experimenting with new forms, drawing inspiration from both Pop Art and Op Art. They feature an illusionistic sense of space, layering shapes and stripes in bright red, dark blue, green and yellow, mixed with white, and pairing straight with curvilinear lines or hard-edged with rounded forms. Park combines geometric abstraction with Obangsaek, a traditional Korean colour spectrum in which colours symbolise the elements and cardinal directions, signalling his interest in evolving a modernism infused with an authentically Korean aesthetic which was later to inform Dansaekhwa.MORE DETAILS