Park Dae Sung artwork on view across America

The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College presents Park Dae Sung: Ink Reimagined, a major exhibition of contemporary Korean ink painting including 23 works, many of which are being shown for the first time in the United States. Park Dae Sung (b. 1945) transforms meditative observation into monumental artworks that revitalize traditional Korean brush and ink techniques for a modern audience. His paintings couple large scale (several works in the show are more than 25 feet long) with technical finesse, reinterpreting ancient landscapes and objects. Park Dae Sung inspires viewers to rethink modernity via tradition and engage with the impact of the past on life today.

Park Dae Sung: Ink Reimagined is on view at the Hood Museum (Dartmouth College; Hanover, NH) from September 24, 2022, through March 19, 2023. This is the largest solo exhibition of Park’s work to be presented in the United States, and only the third time that the artist will have a U.S. solo show.

Separately, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will present an eight-work exhibition this year, Park Dae Sung: Virtuous Ink and Contemporary Brush (July 17 – December 11, 2022).

In 2015, the Korea Society in New York presented a Park Dae Sung solo show.

“Park Dae Sung’s audacity lies in his ability to fully absorb and embrace traditional East Asian brush and ink painting,” John Stomberg, the Hood Museum’s Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director, notes, “while creating artworks of absolute contemporaneity. The paintings are awe inspiring in the truest sense of the phrase.”

Dartmouth Associate Professor of Art History Sunglim Kim, curator of the exhibition, adds, “[Ink Reimagined] is a great opportunity for the Dartmouth and Upper Valley communities to meet this world-class artist in person and see his magnificent works first hand. Park is very humble and deliberate in personality yet passionate and exuberant when engaged with painting. Visitors will see two contrasting characters in his sensitive bird and still life works; long handscroll calligraphy; and bold, energetic, and gigantic landscapes.

Park Dae Sung will be at the Hood Museum of Art on November 3, 5:00–6:00 pm, to discuss his work at the annual Dr. Allen W. Root Contemporary Distinguished Art Lectureship. This will be followed by a full-day symposium about Korean contemporary art on Friday, November 4, co-organized by Dartmouth College, the Korea Foundation, and the MMCA (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea). Both events are open to the public.

About the Artist

Featuring works that rethink landscape, still life, modernity, and tradition, Ink Reimagined captures the essence of Park Dae Sung’s practice. It is organized into four sections: Landscapes, Birds and Animals, Still Life, and Calligraphy. It inspires a deeper contemplation of traditional East Asian art and the diversity of styles—meditative, dramatic, tranquil, and powerful—that exist in the medium of ink. Viewers will walk away from Park’s work with a newfound understanding of what it means to find beauty in what is old, and with a fresh perspective upon humanity’s contemporary relationships with nature, identity, and homeland. His scenes present an imaginative reinterpretation of history that in turn encourages a more progressive and stirring vision of the future.

Park Dae Sung was born in 1945, the year that marked Korea’s independence from Japanese colonization and the end of World War II. Even in the remote city of Cheongdo where he lived, Park was not spared the grip of the Korean War, which began in 1950. Park lost both his parents and his left arm during an attack by North Korean sympathizers, which left him physically disabled and marginalized by his peers. His formal education ended shortly thereafter, and he turned to painting and calligraphy as a source of solace while confronting the hostility of the world around him. Such adversity at a young age informed Park’s creative philosophy later in life.

He states, “When the body is uncomfortable, the mind does not become sluggish and is awake. I achieved what I have because of my disabled arm, so I refrain from being (too) comfortable.”

Korean in painting

In East Asia, calligraphy and painting were traditionally viewed as having the same origin in the media of ink and paper, with the two respective practices embodying what was perceived as fine art. In the 20th century, the view of painting and calligraphy as an intertwined practice was abandoned, but Park rebels against this separation, creating artworks whose philosophical core lies in their combination. The practice of ink and wash painting involves carbon-based black ink applied to paper or silk, with meticulous attention to technique and the rendering of lines. Unlike the opaque paintings with which Western audiences are more familiar, Park’s ink is a notoriously unforgiving medium—all the brushstrokes are final and unchangeable, and stroke thickness, type, darkness, and texture all contribute to the works’ expressiveness. Park’s paintings represent the breadth of possibility in East Asian ink painting, with some featuring powerful, bursting lines and others being hyper-realistic and detailed.

Korean ink painting (hangukhwa) traditionally prioritized the use of shape and line in ink to depict scenery that was not real but rather so idyllic that anyone might wish to imagine oneself there. Scholars believed that painting and calligraphy should channel the artist’s creativity and inner being, a “landscape of the mind,” rather than simply depict the world. Although Park’s artistic practice began with daily calligraphic practice and the imitation of work by earlier Korean masters, his landscapes became novel because they represented imagined ideals through direct observation. He evokes the mood of the land around him while still capturing a unique Korean sense of abstraction.

In his monumental painting Magnificent View of Samneung—measuring 13 x 16 feet—which depicts his garden in Gyeongju, tree trunks float above the ground, fading into a pale background of fog. The forest is interrupted by stone pagodas that lend a contemplative air to the whole scene, while a bright yellow ball of moonlight hovers overhead. The carefully rendered brushstrokes give the illusion of looking through a window into the garden, though it is only ink and wash.

Travel Dates and Venues

The Hood Museum has partnered with three other institutions that will present related exhibitions: the Korea Institute, Harvard University, Park Dae Sung: Ink and Soul (September 19 to Decebmer 8, 2022); the Charles B. Wang Center, Stony Brook University (Stony Brook, NY), Park Dae Sung: Ink Reimagined (September 14 to December 10, 2023); and the University of Mary Washington (Fredricksburg, VA) , Park Dae Sung: Ink Reimagined (October 26 to December 10, 2023).

About the Hood Museum of Art

The Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, centers art and people in teaching and learning through inclusive and robust academic, cultural, and civic engagements with art and its histories. It seeks to advance learning, care, and connections through the reach and relevance of visual art and material culture as a nexus for the exchange of ideas.

With its renewed focus on serving Dartmouth’s faculty and academic mission, the recently expanded facility broadens the museum’s reach to students, faculty, and departments across campus, while deepening its engagement with its longtime stakeholders. It also makes a bolder statement about the significance of the arts within the life of Dartmouth and provides the arts district with an arresting front door to the Green.

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