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Famous paintings by a not-so-famous artist

Posted January. 06, 2017 07:12,   

Updated January. 06, 2017 07:28

Does a famous painter make a better achievement than a painter who is not famous? The exhibition titled “Ryu Gyeong-chae’s abstract paintings 1960-1995” shows it is not always the case. The exhibition is held at Hyundai Art Gallery in downtown Seoul by Feb. 5.

Ryu (1920-1995) had only two private exhibitions in 1983 and 1990. “It’s because he focused on managing an artist community and fostering younger artists, instead of holding private exhibitions after winning the presidential award in the first national artist competition in 1949,” said Kim Seong-eun, the head of the planning team.

The artist painted lyrical and realistic paintings in his 20s and 30s and shifted to non-representational semi-abstract paintings in his 40s. In the 1980s, he focused on splitting sections with different colors and geometric abstract paintings. This exhibition will show around 30 paintings that he drew in his 40s or later years.

“I don’t think there is anyone who wants to buy my paintings and don’t want to sell them at all. I don’t want to have a conflict for trading my paintings and hate currying favor to other people. I’d rather choose to starve," is what Ryu wrote. Though his painting trader would have been anxious, his paintings are subtly different from paintings of other famous artists. He painted for himself, not to show them to others. They are meticulous and thick.

Taek Kyoon Sohn sohn@donga.com