Jae Kon Park: Life And Root
“Life and we ourselves as humans are like a mysterious, fascinating unknown entity. It is possible that once we give up to this fascination of the unknown, it is possible that we can reach a much more spacious and infinite ground as humans” – Jae Kon Park
Marking the start of Heather James Fine Art as worldwide representatives of the estate of Jae Kon Park, this exhibition explores the breadth of the artist’s later works. A post-war abstract modernist, Park located inspiration not in his native South Korea but in his travels through South America. The exhibition surveys how Park found spark in his adopted home and how he grounded his painting in congruent cultural symbols of Latin America and Asia. Park theorized that art began with lines and dots transformed into the sacred circle. Park comprehended this communal circular motif as the Mandala, reaching across cultures as disparate as the Incan to the Chinese. Like many fellow artists and writers, the circle became both symbol and vehicle in which to explore the world, seek understanding, and delve into consciousness. Heather James Fine Art is proud to represent the estate of this pioneering artist who blazed physical and metaphorical trails into the world.
Jae Kon Park was born in 1937 in Korea, and in 1960, graduated from the College of Fine Art, Seoul National University. In 1972 Park moved his family to Latin America, starting off in Canada and working their way down through Mexico, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and finally Argentina. Park would travel for months on end throughout South America, journeying and working alongside native citizens, before returning to his family where he would paint endlessly to translate his experience and knowledge onto the canvas. Not until the 1980s would Park and his family find stability which can be seen in the paintings in the exhibition which began to burst with color. Park found his work celebrated and exhibited increasingly during the eighties in Latin America and towards the end of his life, in his country of birth of South Korea. Following the major retrospective at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea in 2008-2009, Jae Kon Park has seen a revival and rediscovery of his place in the history of art.
Park’s oeuvre travels a wide range of abstraction and was part of a larger trend of non-Western artists engaging in dialogues of abstraction outside of the European context. There are some works like Unknown (1985) that seek to encompass the sacred circle found in cultures around the globe which Park realized in his travels through South America. Brush stroke and color combine to capture the essence of the circle and to represent the search for completeness and unity with and beyond humanity.
There are other works like Birds of Spring (1990) or even About Ancient Korea (1990) and About Ancient Mexico (1990) informed by the similarities of ancient symbols of Incan, Aztec, and Korean cultures. Park has synthesized these forms in search of human origins and human consciousness. There are works freed from representative abstraction like Unknown (1984) and Unknown (1986) in which Park captures the vibrations of partitioned colors and lines to delve into life’s mysteries – something that cannot be fully understood but nevertheless is a truth that emerges from revelation.
“It is believed that once a work of art has been separated from its creator, it becomes an independent body and forms a life with the person appreciating it. People who are interested in art are enthusiasts and as they delve into a piece in agreement with their own thoughts and feelings, they create a new mysterious life, thus becoming another creator of art” – Jae Kon Park