Go to contents

[Figure] Painter Woonbo, Undaunted Experimental Spirit….. Glowing Spirit of Art

[Figure] Painter Woonbo, Undaunted Experimental Spirit….. Glowing Spirit of Art

Posted February. 05, 2002 09:29,   


Over 100 masterpieces of Woonbo from 1950 through 1980 and about 40 articles left by the deceased artist, including his painting brushes and ink slabs, and a hanging board with his calligraphy, `Woonbo Hwabang` (the Art Gallery of Woonbo) will be displayed at an exhibition.

The exhibition focuses on how he integrated modern subjects, techniques, and aesthetics with the beauty of traditional Korean fine arts, his will to life, and his pure and keen appetite for the works of the greatest artist of Korea in the 20th century, especially focusing on the prolific life of Woonbo. Therefore, the articles will be displayed by subjects rather than chronological order; 1st section - cubic genre paintings, 2nd section - the life of Jesus, 3rd section – foolish landscape paintings, foolish paintings of flowers and birds, 4th section – to the world of abstraction.

The first section will display the cubic genre paintings that deconstructed the scenes of everyday life in the 1950s with a unique interpretation; `roasted chestnut peddler`, `small deli`, `barley harvest`, `mask dance`. These masterpieces greatly shocked the Korean artistic circles by throwing away the traditional subjects such as flowers and birds, figures, and landscape, and by illustrating the objects in totally different ways. Those paintings were appreciated as elevating the Korean art to a great deal and established the ground for Woonbo`s abstract paintings.

The second section will display a series of 30 paintings about the life of Jesus, the panoramic masterpieces of Jesus` life from the `annunciation` to `revelation`. Woonbo painted this series in Kunsan during 1952-53 in the midst of the Korean War. Cardinal Kim Soo-Hwan expressed his special appreciation of the series at the last exhibition before Woonbo died.

The third section, `foolish landscape paintings, foolish paintings of flowers and birds` shows the apex of the Woonbo`s art. These paintings are experimental masterpieces that freely illustrate flowers and birds, landscapes, and figures with hyperbole, distortion, and transformation during the 1970s. `Foolish landscape Painting`, `Foolish paintings of flowers and birds`, `Eternal life`, `Fairyland of Mt. Bongrae`, `A remote garden` are full of fresh iconoclastic freedom, comics, and modern artistic senses.

The fourth section displays the abstract paintings of Woonbo, which appeared in the 1960s and continued through the late 80s. Woonbo presented three abstract paintings including `the Image of Relics` to the 7th Sao Paulo Biennale in 1963. With such beginning of abstract painting, his attraction to abstract art continued in the letter abstraction and to the abstract painting by using mops. Choi Eun-Joo, Director of Deoksu Palace Branch of National Museum of Contemporary Art, explained that the abstract paintings of Woonbo such as `letter painting` are very important masterpieces that reveals the world of Woonbo`s art.

The prolific painter Woonbo produced 15,000 paintings through his life. The exhibition shows only 100 pieces of his work but provides very good opportunity to enjoy the genuineness of Woonbo who pursued a new formation of the world through his life.

The opening ceremony is at 3:00 P.M. on 5th. And the exhibition will be open to the public from 6th. 5,000 won for over 25, 4,000 won for 19-24, and 3,000 won for elementary and secondary school students.

For more information, call 02-2020-1620, 02-779-5310~2.

Kwawg-Pyo Lee kplee@donga.com