Park Seo-Bo is widely considered one of the leading figures in contemporary Korean art. Credited as being the father of the ‘Dansaekhwa’ movement. Born in 1931 in Yecheon, Gyeongbuk, Park was part of a generation that was deeply affected by the Korean War (1950–53) which divided the country into North and South. After experimenting with Western abstraction, particularly the style of ‘Art Informel’ with which he became familiar during his time in Paris in 1961, Park began to explore a more introspective methodology that had its origins in Taoist and Buddhist philosophy and also in the Korean tradition of calligraphy.
Park is best known for his ‘Ecriture’ series of paintings. First begun in the late 1960s, the ‘Ecriture’ series embrace this spiritual approach and are inextricably linked to notions of time, space and material, concepts which underpin all of the artist’s work. In the early works, Park used repeated pencil lines incised into a still-wet monochromatic painted surface, and the later works expand upon this language through the introduction of hanji, a traditional Korean paper hand-made from mulberry bark, which is adhered to the canvas surface. This development, along with the introduction of colour, enabled an expansive transformation of his practice while continuing the quest for emptiness though reduction.
Park Seo-Bo graduated from the painting department of Hong-Ik University in Seoul in 1954. He became Dean of the University in 1973 and received an Honorary Doctorate from there in 2000. He has been widely lauded throughout his career for championing Korean art and received the Art Society Asia Game Changer Awards in 2018 and Silver Crown Cultural Medal in Korea in 2011. His work has been exhibited internationally, including Château La Coste, France (2021); Langen Foundation, Neuss (2020); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2019); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), Seoul (2019); Museum of Fine Art, Boston (2018); the Venice Biennale (1988 and 2015); Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2014); Portland Museum of Art, Oregon (2010); Singapore Art Museum (2008); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2007); Tate Liverpool, UK (1992); Brooklyn Museum, New York (1981), and Expo ‘67, Montreal (1967). His work is included in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, UAE; the K20, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen, Düsseldorf; M+, Hong Kong; The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London, amongst others.