A glimpse into artiste Park Soo-keun’s world

A visitor views a painting by Park Soo-keun at an exhibition at Dongdaemun Design Plaza.

Children play in an alleyway. Women wash clothes by a stream. Girls carry their baby sisters and brothers on their backs. These are the scenes from the lives of ordinary Korean people in the 1950s and '60s captured in the paintings of artist Park Soo-keun.

Fifty major paintings by Park depicting life immediately after the Korean War are on display at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza in an exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the artist's death.

Park is one of Korea's first generation of Western-style painters, and is known for his unique style that represents Korean sentiment in simple compositions.

The exhibition, which runs until June 28, sheds light on the beginning of Park's artistic career in the small Seoul neighborhood of Changsin-dong in the 1950s.

"Changsin-dong means a lot to our family because it's where we reunited during the war. He (my father) bought a small house in Changsin-dong with the money he earned from painting and selling portraits.

This is where I spent my childhood and teenage years," said Park In-sook, the artist's eldest daughter, who is now 72, during the press preview last week.

After moving to Changsin-dong, Park stopped painting portraits for money and started painting the scenes that inspired him. This was when he started developing his unique painting method of building up layers of oil paint to create a rough surface for his paintings.

The exhibition takes viewers through the alleyways of old Changsin-dong.

The painting titled "At the Alleyway" features Park's daughter and her friends playing at the entrance of the alleyway and in front of Park's house.

Park's wife frequently appears in the paintings, pounding grains and washing clothes by a stream. His daughters and son were also major subjects. One exhibit shows In-sook carrying her baby brother on her back.

Park Sam-cheol, director of the DDP, said the exhibition was the start of the city's grand plan to transform the Changsin-dong area into an artistic district.

"It was home to two of Korea's greatest artists ― Park Soo-keun and Nam June Paik. Park lived here during the peak of his artistic career and Paik grew up here from age 6," said Park.

On Saturday, the DDP will conduct a tour of the old Changsin-dong area guided by Yu Hong-jun, a former director of the Cultural Heritage Administration.

The tour, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will visit the sites where Park's house and painting studio were located and Paik's old house.

For more information, call (02) 2153-0048.