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Modern artist Lee Jung-seop's pain, love and struggle on display at MMCA Updated: 2022-08-18 17:38:26 KST

Now it's time for our weekly arts & culture segment with Kim Yeon-seung.
Good to have you back in the studio again, Yeon-seung.

Great to be back here.

Now let's dive right in.
What do you have for us today, Yeon-seung?

Well, I'm sure you're familiar with the Lee Kun-hee collection.
When the former Samsung chairman passed away, much of his vast art collection was donated to the National Museum of Korea and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, or MMCA.

Yes, of course.
I heard he had many invaluable works of Korean art in his collection, and the exhibition displaying these artworks has been a really big hit.

Exactly, so the MMCA last July, hosted the first exhibition of the Lee Kun-hee collection.
The exhibition ran for almost a year and wrapped up this June, and it was a massive success.
Almost 250-thousand visitors in total visited, which is quite an impressive number, especially considering the COVID restrictions.
Now, this August, the MMCA is hosting the second exhibition of the Lee Kun-hee collection, and this time, it's only featuring the work of modern artist Lee Jung-seop.

Lee Jung-seop.
He's the artist who is most famous for his paintings of bulls?

Yes that's right.
He's an artist who has lived through the hardest times in Korean history, the early 1900s to the 1950s, and his paintings of bulls were widely lauded for capturing the fighting and persevering spirit of Koreans.
Even though that's what he's known for, he was actually quite a prolific artist who's created around 670 pieces of artwork.
This exhibition is displaying about 90 pieces of his work, including some that have never been shown before.
Take a look.

These bold brush strokes are what's left behind from the short life led by artist Lee Jung-seop, who lived from 1916 to 1956.
Lee Jung-seop is one of the biggest names in Korean modern art.
The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, or MMCA, is currently holding an exhibition of his lifetime's work.
It put together roughly 90 pieces, formerly owned by the late Samsung business magnate, Lee Kun-hee.

"In this exhibition, visitors can see works that were rarely displayed before. The paintings 'Chicken and Chicks' and 'Children Playing in the Water' are two pieces that have never been publicly displayed before."

"This exhibition walks visitors through the life of artist Lee Jung-seop.
The expressive colors and his bold lines take us right to the emotions he was feeling at the time- pain, love, and struggle."

Because Lee Jung-seop was a struggling artist, he didn't have enough money to put his artwork on a canvas.
So Lee had to be creative.
Lee created his art on paper, postcards, and even tinfoil.
But on top of these humble supplies, Lee's raw emotions shone out- like the love he had for his family.

"Lee Jung-seop parted ways with his wife and two sons in June, 1952. He was reunited with them for one week the next year, but other than that, he didn't see his family again before he died. He drew the family together beautifully when they were apart."

And the exhibition is getting a lot of foot traffic.
Due to COVID, the museum is only accepting 200 visitors a day, but all its slots have filled up almost every day since opening.

"There are some very famous pieces here that I've only seen in textbooks. Seeing them in real life is much more impressive."

"When I saw these pieces in pictures, I didn't really feel them. But seeing them in real life, the paintings really capture the love of a family, I got a very warm and good feeling off of them."

Lee Jung-seop has lived through some of the toughest times in Korean history- the Japanese colonial period and the Korean war.
But even through the darkest of times, he's clung on to his art.
And it was this persistence that helped the generations that followed to feel his love for his family.
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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