Lot 1068
  • 1068

PARK SEOBO | Ecriture No. 5-80

6,000,000 - 9,000,000 HKD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Ecriture No. 5-80
  • pencil and oil on canvas
  • 162 by 194.6 cm; 63⅝ by 76⅝ in.
signed and titled in Hanja and English and dated 1980 on the reverse


Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
Acquired by the present owner from the above


Korea, Seoul, Gallery Hyundai, Park Seobo Solo Exhibition, 3 - 9 November 1981
Korea, Seoul, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Park Seobo's Painting: Its Forty Years, 25 October - 24 November 1991
Korea, Seoul, Gallery Hyundai, Korea's Monochrome in 1970s, 1 - 25 February 1996
Korea, Daegu, Sigong Gallery, Park Seobo Solo Exhibition, 18 March - 10 April 1999
Korea, Seoul, Kukje Gallery, Park Seobo, 21 December 2010 - 20 January 2011, p. 131 (illustrated in colour)
USA, LA, Blum & Poe Gallery, From All Sides: Tansaekhwa on Abstratcion, 13 September - 8 November 2014, p. 103 (illustrated in colour)

Catalogue Note

Ecriture: Beyond Emptiness
Park Seobo

I want to reduce the idea and emotion in my work, to express my interest in space from the point of view of nature. Then I want to reduce that-to create pure emptiness. This has been an old value that still exists in oriental philosophy where nature and men are one. This tendency is evident in my work from the 1970s and 1980s. - Park Seobo

Ecriture No. 5-80
is paradigmatic of Park Seobo’s 1980s works - a period in which the pioneering leader of Dansaekhwa achieved an apex of transcendental sublimity in his iconic Ecriture series. Fusing monochromatic serenity with an inherently dynamic sense of rhythmic motion, the painting exhibits masterful calligraphic spirals that leap and curl with a looser density than his 1970s works, exhibiting heightened dexterity and freedom in both mind and brush. A paradigmatic example of Park’s iconic Ecriture paintings, the present work is an enduring testament to the astounding visual potency of Dansaekhwa, the unique brand of minimalist abstraction that firmly established the significance of the Korean avant-garde within the narrative of contemporary art. Across the vast monochromatic vista of Ecriture No. 5-80, Park’s articulation of a new conception of painting—one that simultaneously evokes the ruminative practice of Korean calligraphic tradition and the radical purity of contemporary minimalism—initiates an unprecedented visual dialogue between East and West, opening both up to an entirely new visual mode.

Ecriture No. 5-80 belongs to Park’s iconic series of the same name, which the artist began in the late 1960s. French for ‘writing’, Ecriture is a pertinent title for this seminal body of work; although scrupulously contained within a stark monochrome palette, the intuitive brushstrokes of the artist’s tenacious hand evoke a vivid notion of texture and establish a lively, relief-like surface. Early works from the Ecriture series comprise a series of line drawings in which pencils or wooden sticks are dragged through wet oil paint, creating a vigorously multidimensional textural surface of rhythmic repetition. In mature forms, Park re-paints the surface and repeats the process of scoring and effacing, executing the recurrent action with a deeply meditative, hyper-disciplined and relentlessly ruthless rhythm, engaging with paint and canvas rigorously on both a spiritual and physical level. Swooping gracefully across the alabaster picture plane, Park’s soft textural inflections and elongated lines powerfully evoke the esteemed Korean tradition of calligraphy, an art form that holds the aesthetic integrity of legible linguistic signs as paramount to the creation of an ocular experience.

Park further locates his practice within the context of Korean tradition by articulating the influence of meditative Taoist and Buddhist philosophy upon his work, noting: “I want to reduce the idea and emotion in my work, to express my interest in space from the view of nature. Then I want to reduce that – to pure emptiness. This has been an old value that still exists in oriental philosophy where nature and men are one” (the artist cited in Exh. Cat., London, White Cube, Park Seo-Bo, 2016, n.p.). On the other hand, the artist’s engagement with writing and the line embraces a minimalistic rationality reminiscent of the graphic scribbles of Cy Twombly, while his austere palette relates aesthetically to Western Minimalists such as Robert Ryman, situating Park firmly within the international contemporary canon. Ecriture No. 5-80 therefore reveals the unique locus of the artist’s oeuvre between the traditional visual paradigm of Korean artistic tradition and the gestural and minimalist proclivities of Western contemporary art.

Spanning more than four decades, Park’s highly influential corpus stands at the very forefront of Dansaekhwa, which translates into English as ‘monochrome painting’. Situated at a turning point in Korea’s post-war, post-colonial landscape, the Dansaekhwa artists sought to redefine the country’s cultural identity; whilst the West experienced the ascension of gestural abstraction in the form of American Abstract Expressionism in the US and its counterpart, European Art Informel, Dansaekhwa artists independently developed a painterly language that would emphasize the physical nature of material and artwork. Hailed as the vanguard of Dansaekhwa in the 1970s, Park was Vice Chairman (1970-1977) and Chairman (1977-1980) of the International Division of the Korea Fine Art Association and oversaw the presentation of Korean artists in overseas exhibitions. Park was instrumental in launching Dansaekhwa into the global limelight, instituting numerous large-scale experimental exhibitions that set the stage for Dansaekhwa artists to participate in prominent international art festivals. Park became the revered Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Hongik University, Seoul in 1986 and went on to represent Korea at the 43rd Venice Biennale in 1988, marking the artist’s indisputable ascension into international prominence.