Tuesday, November 15, 2016

South Korea 2016 - 100th Birth Anniversary of Lee Jung-Seop

ISSUE DATE: 1 September 2016
STAMP SIZE:40 x 24 mm
STAMP DESIGN: Shin Jaeyong

Well-known for his use of free-flowing strokes imbued with dynamism, Lee Jung-Seop (1916~1956) is not only a master in Korean modern art but the most beloved painter by the Korean people.

Born to a wealthy family in Pyeongwon, Pyeongannam-do Province, Lee Jung-Seop took great interest in art from a young age. He began his art studies at Osan School under the tutelage of Im Yong-Ryeon, who introduced Lee to western art. In 1936, Lee went to Tokyo to continue his art education, studying first at the Imperial Art School and, from 1937, at Bunka Gakuin (Institute of Culture), a school known for being liberal and innovative. It was there that Lee established his own unique painting style and soon drew accolades. In 1943, he won the Sun Award from the Association of Free Artists.

Upon returning to Wonsan, Korea, Lee married Yamamoto Masako (later changed name to Lee Nam-Deok), a Japanese woman whom he had met at Bunka Gakuin. The couple had two sons while Lee Jung-Seop continued to actively produce paintings. With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, Lee with his family were forced to flee south to Busan. In 1951, they moved to Seogwipo on Jeju Island, where he produced works for about a year. Lee and his family moved back to Busan the following year but continued to live in destitution. Then, upon hearing the news of her father’s passing, Masako left for Japan with the children. In 1953, Lee secured a sailor license to travel to Japan to visit his family. The license allowed only a temporary stay, and he had to return to Korea after a week. Following the visit, he continued to pursue art, producing paintings and drawings on paper, wooden boards, and even on pieces of tinfoil from cigarette packs. Sadly, his deep longing for his family, years of wandering from one place to another, and despair as an artist ultimately took a toll; He suffered from hepatitis and malnutrition, and died in 1956 at Seoul Red Cross Hospital, leaving behind a life full of ups and downs.

He lived through the Japanese colonial period, national liberation, and the Korean War, and expressed in his works the tragedy of the times, as well as the anger from his turbulent life. His works are autobiographical, indigenous, and story-telling, including “Fighting Bulls” and “Bull” from his famous bull series, which depict his inner world with lines imbued with boldness and vitality, as well as “Family on the Road.” Lee Jung-Seop was an unsung artistic genius who dedicated his entire life to pursuing art. The works he left behind will continue to inspire us for many years to come.

Stamp images and description thanks to Korea Post

South Korea Post