Park Seo-Bo and His Ecriture
Park Seo-bo Hwabaek(1931~) was a pioneer in Korean abstract art in the late 1950s, following the Korean abstract art of Angformel, who led monochromatic painting. In particular, he is known for developing the unique spirit and formative language of korean traditions in his own way through 'material properties and acts'. Park Seo-bo's signature work is the series
1970s ~ 1980s : To confront an action with an object
This painting is one of the artist’s early Ecriture works between the 1970s and the 1980s. He conceived the idea for Ecriture accidently from watching his young son repeatedly write and erase letters on a notebook while practicing his handwriting skills. It was the beginning of his experiments of unconventional techniques, which opened up an entirely new artistic world for Park Seo-Bo.
In his early Ecriture works, he applied light greyish or ivory colour onto the canvas before drawing lines repeatedly with a pencil while the surface of the canvas was still wet. The paintings are an accumulation of this repetitive act, which coincides with religious practices carried out to reach the pure and meditative state of mind. “Myobop, Ecriture in Korean language, is about calming the mind in pursuit of the sublime beauty,” Park Seo-Bo said.
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Park Seo-Bo referred to white porcelain as he talked about the colours used in his early works.
“Back in those days, I was so immersed in the charm of the white porcelain that I used to buy porcelain bowls and dishes in my dreams at night. Reflecting the night light, the porcelain took on a bluish hue as if it contained water in it. It was the colour of sheer purity. In my effort to recreate that colour, I frequently used colours such as greyish white, milky white and creamy white.”
The late 1980s to early 1990s : Actions and materials become one.
The artworks from the late 1980s to early 1990s, a critical turning point in the artist’s career, are often referred to as zigzag Ecriture. The artist started using hanji, Korean traditional paper, more actively for his paintings after thorough experiments of the material.
He begins with attaching patches made up of small pieces of layered hanji onto the canvas and keeps drawing lines with a pencil while the surface of the canvas is still wet. The interaction between hanji and the pencil leaves marks or traces of the journey on the canvas made by the pencil. During this process, hanji gets manipulated or torn by the movement of the pencil. The small pieces of hanji permeate into the canvas in all directions in the form of irregular pattern or regular pattern with rhythm.
“I have a soft spot for this particular work. I was working on this painting(Ecriture 870907) until the early hours of the morning and ended up leaving it unfinished after seeing off my sons to school. To this day, I regret not having completed the painting. I had an opportunity to have this unfinished painting exhibited at the White Cube gallery in London and later sent it off to a new owner with rather mixed feelings.”
In the 1990s, the artist began to use a variety of different colours such as purple, yellow and red. “There are flowers with undefinable colours that are neither purple nor pink. I buy those flowers whenever I come across them at flower shops. In this work, I expressed the feelings I felt while admiring the small flower pot on the table,” the artist said about the colours of this work.
Early 2000s to mid-2000s
Around early 2000s, the artist replaced the zigzag style with a new pattern of simple and clean vertical lines. While the zigzag Ecriture works involve the natural and spontaneous interaction between the hand and the mind, his later Ecriture works break away from the complicated patterns and feature simple and jotted vertical lines with a three-dimensional look. The texture of jotted vertical lines represents the endless changes of nature just like the widening ripples on a pond.
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The later Ecriture works with vertical lines are characterized by thoroughly pre-planned conception and refined sternness and represent the artist’s long-cherished aspiration to attain the spiritual state of absolute selflessness. The artist seems to have a firm belief that art should have an important role in this fast-paced modern society to absorb stress and restore peace through its healing power.
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The later Ecriture works from the mid-2000s onwards feature jotted texture and more vibrant colours. The artist keeps exploring the colours from nature and uses them actively in his paintings.
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