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 Soo-Keun Park  (1914 - 1965)

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Lived/Active: South Korea      Known for: modernist figure and genre painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Hailing from Yanggu County, Gangwon Province, South Korea, Soo-Keun Park attended Yanggu Public Elementary School when he was younger, and then taught himself painting as was a teenager. In 1932, he made his debut in painting circles with his work titled Spring Is Gone when it was selected for the 11th annual Seonjeon painting contest. Park ended up being selected a total of eight times in the contest until 1944.

In 1953, he participated in the 2nd annual National Art Exhibition and won 1st place. Soon after, he became a full-time painter and won numerous prizes on ten different occasions. In 1959, he got recommendation from the National Art Exhibition and served on the screening committee during the early 1960s.

In 1963, Park lost eyesight in one of his eyes due to cataract, and died of liver cirrhosis at the age of 52 in 1965. For much of his life Park struggled with poverty and lonesomeness but during the 1980s, he was posthumously awarded the Eun-gwan (silver crown) of Order of Culture Merit.

Source:
"Park-Su-geun", Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_Su-geun (Accessed 10/22/2013)

Biography from Tobin Reese Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Park Soo Keun (1914-1965) was a Korean painter that worked in the mediums of sketch, watercolor, and oil.

Park Soo Keun was born in Jeonglim Village, Yanggu County, in present-day South Korea. As a youth, an early encounter with the paintings of French artist Jean-François Millet inspired him to study art. Although his family only had enough money to send him to elementary school, he taught himself how to paint while a teenager, earning his first of eight invitations to participate in the 11th annual Seon-Jeon Painting Contest with his painting, Spring Is Gone. After the death of his mother in 1935, Park moved to Chuncheon in order to spend time devoted to his art while trying to make enough money on which to exist. During this time, he discovered painting with oils, a medium which would help to launch his popularity in the coming years. He spent time moving between exhibitions in Chuncheon, Seoul, and Pochon, exhibiting his art.

After he married Kim Bok-Soon in 1940, he moved his family to Pyongyang. There, Park found work in the government while continuing to produce art. When American forces began to bomb Pyongyang, he sent his family to live with his father, joining them the following year in 1945. During this period, Park's artwork began to shift away from idealized life towards depictions of simple life, reflecting his own impoverished lifestyle.

In the 1950s, Park found work at the docks, leaving him enough time to cultivate his artistic talent. He won 1st place in the National Art Exhibition in 1953. It was only after this point that he managed to get his first job which utilized his artistic skills; he sketched portraits for the Criminal Investigation Department. This added income allowed him to finally purchase his own home in the Changsin neighborhood of Seoul, away from what would eventually be the demilitarized zone and the border between the Koreas. Despite gaining more success and recognition as an artist with many domestic and international exhibitions of his art, Park continued to struggle with poverty and alcohol abuse. A failed cataract surgery left him blind in one eye for the last few years of his life. Sadly, he died from cirrhosis of the liver at the age of 51.

In 1980, Park was posthumously awarded the Eun-gwan Order of Cultural Merit from the government of the Republic of Korea. In 2002, the Park Soo-Keun Museum opened in Yanggu County to showcase his artwork. Today, he is considered an important Korean artist whose legacy lives on in continuing exhibitions.

Source:
Ian Martyn for Tobin Reese Fine Art

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