Park Seo-Bo

Gyeonggido Museum of Art

The phrase “Korean Modernism” has been unjustly burdened by its association with a series of overpowering, mostly foreign references, such as Monochrome, Informel, and Minimalism. The work of Park Seo-Bo is both a primary cause and the chief victim of such categorizations. Park, at age seventy-six, has often been called the strongest painter in recent Korean art history and a pioneer.

As with other artists in his milieu, Park’s earliest influences arrived from the West either directly from Paris or filtered through the Japanese press during or after the occupation. For the fledgling painter visiting Paris in 1961, a post–Korean War ethos could only be expressed by a pessimistic Informel featuring organic forms and a muddy palette symbolically expressive of the chaos and hardship so many had experienced. This was followed by a short phase of surrealistic figuration and Op-like stripe

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