Lot 1017
  • 1017

Park Seobo

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 HKD
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  • Ecriture No. 46-75
  • pencil and oil on canvas, framed
signed and titled in Hanja and English and dated 1975 on the reverse, framed


Private Japanese Collection
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Catalogue Note

Ecriture: Between Writing and Painting
Park Seobo

Ecriture”, which means “writing” in French, is an apt name for Park Seobo’s revolutionary body of paintings that combine writing and painting. Placing his canvases on the floor, the artist first coats the surfaces with white pigments, and then uses a pencil to draw repeated spiral and helix patterns onto the still-wet white surface of the canvas. The opposing materials, forms and lines are reined in to become one, bound by the artist's identity as both calligrapher and painter. As writer Soon Chun Cho ascertains, “By moving beyond image and expression, and focusing on the gesture, he learned to control himself and his surroundings. More important, he learned how to extend himself onto his canvas and become one with his work.”1

The art critic Oh Kwang-Su described it thus: “Park took a pencil, repeatedly drawing lines of a particular length. The pencil drawing upon the still wet canvas creates a factor between the tracks where the lines are drawn and the paint that touches those lines creating an inner design echoed throughout the painting.”2 Simultaneously abstract and calligraphic, Park’s signature series conflates not only the paradigms of writing and drawing and calligraphy and oil-painting; it also negotiates between what is considered “Eastern” and “Western” in Korean artistic discourse. Oil is a Western medium, while the effect of the Ecriture works are reminiscent of both Hanji (traditional Korean paper) and the Western canvas. Park’s colour palette too is situated between tradition and modernity: his choice of oil evokes the colour of porcelain from the Choson dynasty (1392 - 1910) while his delicate black helixes constitute an attempt to modernise tradition.

The current lot, Ecriture No. 46 -75 (Lot 1017), was created in the same year as Park’s participation in the pioneering show, “Five Korean Artists: Five Kinds of White” at the Tokyo Gallery. The pivotal exhibition is considered the first international showing of Dansaekhwa artists, and is regarded as the official inauguration and recognition of their stylistic achievements. Dansaekhwa, literally meaning “Monochrome Painting”, pursued abstraction with a twist, centering itself around the qualities of minimalism and the colour white. While white acts as a blank slate representing annihilation and the cathartic erasing of the traumas of post-war Europe and Northern America, the white in Dansaekhwa is a layered, multidimensional white – the result of repeated meditations on the establishment of “Koreanness”.

Park is considered by many to be at the very forefront of the Dansaekhwa movement. His talent was recognised early on in his artistic career: In his mid-thirties, Park was chosen to represent Korea at the Paris Biennial as well as at the prestigious São Paulo Biennial. Later in 1961, Park participated in the UNESCO International Young Painters exhibition held in Paris as a representative of his country. The Ecriture series, coinciding with Park’s participation in the ground breaking 1975 Tokyo exhibition, marks Park’s unmistakable ascension into international prominence; a historically significant piece of work, the current lot is an archetypal example of a style and technique that would remain integral to Park’s oeuvre for decades to come.

1 ”L'art Informel and Park Seo-bo's Early Career", Soon Chun Cho, in Empty the Mind: The Art of Park Seo-Bo, Soon chun Cho and Barbara Bloemink (New York: Assouline Publishing, 2009), p. 20

2 Oh Kwang-Su, “The Methods and Times of Park Seo-Bo,” in Park Seo-Bo, exhibition catalogue (Beijing: Arario Gallery, 2007), p. 124