Lee Jung-seob (1916-1956) is one of the most famous Korean painters. When the Korean War broke out in 1950, he left Wonsan, Hamgyeong Province for Busan, then arrived in Seogwipo with his family in mid-January 1951. What did he feel when he finally escaped the smoky battlefield and unpacked his belongings in southern Seogwipo? His sketches and paintings during his residence in Seogwipo for a year are one of the key channels to examine Lee Jung-seob and the Korean War.
Lee's oil painting, Scenery with Seopseom Island in the Distance, painted in Seogwipo, gives off a sense of calmness. The villages and seas of Seogwipo in reddish-brown hues look peaceful as ever, as if in contrast with the utter tragedies of the war that erupted before the deep wounds from Jeju 4·3 had even healed.
On the other hand, A Family on the Beach expresses his happy days in Seogwipo. The oil painting depicts the longing for his wife and two sons who moved to Japan shortly after going back to Busan from Seogwipo, showing the good old days he spent with his family in Jeju.
▲ Scenery with Seopseom Island in the Distance (1951)
These pieces will be displayed at the Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery. Twelve pieces of Lee Jung-seob's works donated to Jeju Province from the so-called "Lee Kun-hee Collection" of the late Samsung Electronics chairman in April will be showcased to the public for the first time. Starting around the date of Lee Jung-seob's passing (September 6th), the special exhibition "Return to Seogwipo after 70 years" will be held for six months from September 5 to March 6 next year. The exhibition was titled considering how Scenery with Seopseom Island in the Distance will be housed at a public art museum in Seogwipo, the location where Lee painted it in 1951. From the observatory at the Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery, you can see Seopseom Island as it was on that day 70 years ago.
Exhibited works include six oil paintings—Scenery with Seopseom Island in the Distance (1951), Doves and Children (1950s), Family on the Beach (1950s), Children and Strings (1955), Sea of Hyunhaetan (1954), and Two Children with Fish (1954)—one watercolor painting called Boys Playing with Fish (1950s), two silver foil drawings (1950s), and three postcard drawings (1941-1942). It also presents media art using original images, a chronicle of Lee Jung-seob's life and art, and the footsteps of Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery.
▲ Sea of Hyeonhaetan (1954)
Through the donation from the Samsung family, the Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery now owns 60 pieces of his works. The donation also includes Lee Jung-seob's documents, palettes, and other remaining keepsakes that amount to 97 items. Ticket reservations are currently available through the official website of Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery.
Seogwipo City will continue related events in tandem with the special exhibition of these donations. At Seogwipo Art Center, a creative musical (September 16-18) and creative opera (October 1-2) based on Lee's life will be performed one after another. The Lee Jung-seob Art Festival will be held from September 25 to 26 at Lee Jung-seob Park. On October 14th, the 24th Lee Jung-seob Seminar will be held at KAL Hotel, Seogwipo City, highlighting his works among the Lee Kun-hee Collection.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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