The Essence of Korean
"'The Pure Love of Nature" by Mrs. DongWon Keum
Dong Won Keum's
artistic achievements can best be described as uncommon.
Born in Seoul, Korea, she has lived her life as a city woman. In fact, Keum was one of only a half-dozen female artists in Korea to achieve a high level of recognition in her homeland before she and her three sons emigrated to the United States in 1975, where she then lived in New York for twenty years. Yet, despite the urban environment of her surroundings, Keum's brush paintings capture the wild beauty of the nameless plants and wild flowers of the field, as well as contemplative scenes of the countryside.
The active harmony that balances her naturalistic light and color with subject matter is best described as painted poetry, and reveals the literary side of this versatile artist. It is noteworthy that while only in her thirties, Keum was the sole female member of the literary coterie magazine Munjang-ga (People of Letters), sponsored by the poet Lee Sang-ro, cultural editor of the Dong-a Daily.
The inclusion of insects, such as grasshoppers and dragonflies, lends a seasonal mood to many of Keum's works, while the artist's sensitive treatment of landscape demonstrates an autobiographical aspect of her life through a recurring theme on the lonely mind of herself. Dong Won Keum's liberation from worldliness has reached a Taoist dimension in her naturalistic approach to painting. Through it, she declares that what cannot be priced in the earthly world is the most priceless.