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Korea's favorite painter Park Soo-keun's largest retrospective on at MMCA Deoksugung Palace Updated: 2021-11-26 11:20:21 KST

One of Korea's most beloved painters from the early 20th century is Park Soo-keun.
He's famous for using gritty textures to portray the lives of ordinary people suffering the aftermath of war.
And now the largest ever retrospective exhibition of his work is being held in Seoul.
Our Kim Bo-kyoung went to check it out and files this report.
A painter who paid careful attention to the lives of the ordinary people as they rebuilt their lives after war.
Park Soo-keun developed his own unique painting technique of multi-layered, thick matiere.
Ever since his childhood, he dreamed of becoming an artist like Millet but he had to study art on his own as getting a formal art education was an unthinkable luxury.
His lenses spotted people nearby after the Korean War and that made him "an artist beloved by Koreans."

"Park Soo-keun painted in the 1950s and 60s and this is when artists were exploring the ways for Korea's modern art to develop after the Korean War. He used the Western tools of oil painting but always tried to spot Korea's own objects, structure and coloring."

Now there's a chance to delve deeper into his art.
The artist's largest retrospective to date is taking place at MMCA Deoksugung Palace presenting more than one-hundred-70 oil and watercolor paintings.
More than 30 pieces that have been donated by the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee have been included which made Park's oeuvre even more extensive.

"Three women is one of the donated pieces. After the Korean war, lots of men died or became jobless and sick. Women had to be the breadwinners and the painting depicting them either having cigarettes or cupping their chins because they were struggling for sales."

His well-known works featuring a woman pounding grain and children with babies are at the center of the exhibition.
Other masterpieces include those that went overseas after being bought by foreign buyers such as "Old Folks Chattering" which was bought by a professor at the University of Michigan.

"His unique, thick matiere technique is what first catches visitors' eyes. But if you delve deeper into his art, you will realize how skilled he was in arranging elements in a bold but stable manner."

Barren trees take up the main space a bold and daring attempt, but Park makes the structure stable with other elements such as people next to trees.
Leafless branches make the paintings wintry but as spring comes after the winter it shows the artist's hope that one day a warm spring would come.
Kim Bo-kyoung, Arirang news.
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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