Biography

Park Seo-Bo (1931 – 2023) was a South Korean painter known for his "Écriture" series (1967 onwards), involvement in the Korean Art Informel movement, and particular formal concerns around painting that have led critics and art historians to identify him as a leading Dansaekhwa artist.

 

Park was part of the first generation of artists to begin building their careers in the wake of the Korean War after growing up under Japanese colonial rule, having their study interrupted by the outbreak of the Korean War, and surviving the conflict. Much of Park's early work emerged in response to his own experiences at the time.

 

After graduating from Hongik University, Park was very much on the social and art world periphery as both a draft dodger hiding under a new name (changed from Park Jae-hong), and ardent critic of the National Art Exhibition (Kukjeon for short). Park joined the Contemporary Artists Association (Hyeondae Misul Hyeohoe) in 1957, and became one of the main figures in the Korean Art Informel movement along with others in the association. Park sought to conceptually and materially challenge assumptions around painting at the time through his abstract paintings that experimented with texture, color, material, line, and shape. The main focus of his practice for over his last half century was exploring the formal possibilities for painting through an emphasis on process, and deemphasis on artistic intention in his "Écriture" series.

 

Increasing opportunities to write about foreign artists and travel abroad also compelled Park to take an active role advocating for the promotion of Korean contemporary art on a local and global scale. Park's mentorship of students at Hongik, curation of shows featuring emerging avant-garde artists, and work at the Korean Fine Arts Association (KFFA) played a crucial role in supporting generations of contemporary Korean artists. His work at the KFFA in particular was central to the development of Dansaekhwa.

 

After founding the Seo-bo Art and Cultural Foundation in 1994, Park passed on leadership to his son in 2014. He had his most recent retrospective at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) in 2019, and there are now two museums dedicated to his work. Park worked and lived in Yeonhui-dong, Seoul.

 

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Exhibitions