Bae Dong Shin

Bae Dong Shin is a Gwangju painter that helped bring Western style painting to the Jeonnam area.  Born in 1920 he studied in Japan at Kawabata School of Fine Arts and was part of the Avante-garde movement in Tokyo in the 1930s. He participated in the Association of Free Artists by showing in the Seventh Exhibition in 1943. After Korea’s liberation from Japan in 1945, he returned to Gwangju to paint, avoiding the politicism of the Seoul art scene that was emerging. Korea’s art scene did not recognize his painting genius until the 1970s. In 1978 he and his wife moved to Seoul after Bae finally received recognition by being included in the National Museum in Seoul.

While his wife supported him by giving piano lessons, and Bae led a rather ascetic lifestyle. Known for his integrity, he was often compared to a monk. A typical Gwangju character who didn’t find solace in prestige or money, he was in love with his art. His passion was influential on others, more through his life style than the finished product of his art. Drawing his picture several times before he actually paints, he practices a meditational approach to his art which is a healing visual to the viewer when completed.

He paints only in watercolor and prefers a Western-impressionistic style of painting. The content reflects his Jeonnam and Gwangju roots. Landscapes of Mudeunsan and Mokpo harbor are scenes he’s rendered many times. Apples, nudes, and images of Korean spiritual life – figures meditating or shamans dancing – are also frequent subject matter.

Daein’s Art Road project, brought a selection of this 90 year old’s work to Zoo Gallery this past November 2010. It was a wonderful treat to view downtown. Read more at Perry Bialor’s Koreana article:


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