Gallery Hyundai is pleased to present Two Great Artists of Korean Painting: Lee Sangbeom · Byeon Gwansik. Lee Sangbeom and Byeon Gwansik are the two monumental figures in the history of modern art in Korea. While succeeding the tradition of Jeong Seon and Kim Hong-do, the master painters in Joseon Dynasty, the two artists firmly established their unique and original styles. Ranging from the very early works to paintings completed in their last years, this momentous exhibition provides an opportunity to appreciate the significant masterpieces of both artists.
The main space has transformed the gallery through the accommodation of around 50 key works by the father of modern Korean art, Cheongjeon Lee Sangbeom(靑田 李象範, 1897-1972), who established the prominent ‘Cheongjeon Style’ of Korean landscape painting. Mt. Seorak (1946) and Forest Covered in Thick Fog – his most recognized painting from the 60s, which was exhibited at the 17th National Art Exhibition – among others, portraying beautiful Korean mountain villages, are on show. Additionally, Returning at Dawn, completed in 1945, is unveiled to the public for the first time in this exhibition. As the pupil of An Jungsik and Cho Seokjin, the most eminent painters of the late Joseon period, Lee excelled in the field of landscape painting. He participated in the production of mural painting at Changdeokgung, a Korean royal palace at a young age and received special awards at the Joseon Art Exhibition. Through his harmonic use of both Eastern and Western painting techniques, Lee mastered his own canon of brushstrokes and ink technique, which resulted in the unique ‘Cheongjeon Style’ of painting. Even after all these years, the works of Lee Sangbeom, which depict mountains and trees; rocks and streams; and farmers and their wives in a distinctive Korean way, allow viewers to experience the calmness and serenity of Korean landscape paintings.
The new space has dedicated the gallery to around 50 of the most celebrated works by Sojeong Byeon Gwansik(小亭 卞寬植, 1899-1976), which illustrate his lifelong voyage through the natures of Korea. Byeon’s renowned pieces portraying the scenic view of Mt. Geumgang such as Bodeokgul Cave in Inner Mt. Geumgang and Jinjudam Pond in Inner Mt. Geumgang as well as Samseonam Hermitage in Outer Mt. Geumgang in Autumn, which was exhibited at Traveling Exhibition of Korean Paintings in 1977, are on show. As the grandson of the famous painter Cho Seokjin, Byeon Gwansik showed remarkable talent in drawing at a young age. He has been recognized as one of the most iconic painters of Korean art in his role as a prize winner, recommended artist, and judge for the most representative exhibitions of his time, including the Joseon Art Exhibition and the National Art Exhibition. Influenced by his grandfather Cho, Byeon practiced a typical ink-based landscape of literati painting in the early stages of his career. However, he began to pursue the depiction of reality in his work, based on the notion of Western ideology, and established his own style of modern landscape painting. His unprecedented composition, natural lines, and charismatic brushstrokes found in his realistic paintings of Korean nature have established Byeon Gwansik as a painter who proposed a new era of Korean art.
We hope that this exhibition will become the foundation for the enrichment and further acknowledgment of Korean art both nationally and internationally.