Understanding the Insides of Un-Soung Pai (1900-1978): Records About Korean Artists’ Work and Life, Including Their Identity


This presentation explores the role of identity, and the issues surrounding it, for Korean modern artists under Japanese colonization (1910-1945) by focusing on Korean artist Un-Soung Pai's work and life. I will mainly focus on his art studies in Europe and his relationship with Japanese culture and celebrities from various circles during that period. Un-Soung Pai is one of the most significant figures in the history of Korean modern art. He was the first Korean artist to study in Europe, and the artist who stayed there the longest amount of time, a period of eighteen years (from 1922 to 1940). It should be noted that he was one of the only Korean artists whose unique style of painting during the modern period was well appreciated by people there. For Pai, Europe was an important place, both artistically and politically. Europe was the place where his work was born, developed and completed. Politically, studying in Europe provided him many chances to encounter various kinds of Japanese people and cultures, more than he would have been exposed to in Korea or Japan. In other words, studying in Europe was a journey to find and improve 'self' for him. By studying Pai's work and life, we can understand the implications of studying abroad for Korean artists under the Japanese rule, and witness the self-realization that may transpire through creating art in a different social environment.

Author Information
Minjong Shin, The University of Tokyo, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACAS2016
Stream: Korean Studies

This paper is part of the ACAS2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon