On the Road, circa 1953 Oil on cardboard, framed; the horizontal composiion depicting four roadside venders seated with their backs facing the viewer, the scene rendered in subdued tones of white, gray and brown with tiny patches of red enlivening the low basket to the left of center above the artist's signature Sookeun in hangul. 6 3/8 x 10 7/8in (16.3 x 27.5cm) dimensions of painting 12 1/4 x 16 3/4in (31 x 42.5cm) dimensions of frame
The present lot was acquired with a second painting directly from Park Sookeun in 1953 when the paintings owner, Mr. Tom H. John, was stationed in Korea with the United States Army and the United Nations from 1951-1953. While there he was contacted by Madame Rhee, wife of the first President of the Republic of South Korean Syngman Rhee, to restore and redesign the famed Bando Hotel in Seoul as well as the residence of the United States embassy in Seoul. In the course of the hotel renovation, local Korean artists were contacted to work on commission for the hotel, which, on the command of Madame Rhee, was to feature a combination of both Korean and Western aesthetics in a new "international style". Among the local artists was a young Park Sookeun. Mr. John was so impressed with the artist's work, he purchased two paintings for his own collection. Mr. John would not only leave Korea with the two paintings, but with a Presidential Commendation for his work on the Bando Hotel and the United States Embassy residence from President Syngman Rhee. Fifty-six years later Mr. John would return to Korea with the two paintings, meeting with the Korean Art Appraisal Association and members of the Park family, both of whom presented Mr. John with certificates of authenticity for the works. In an emotional meeting with the artist's son, Mr. John was told he was among the first to purchase the work of Park Sookeun, and the positive encouragement helped to further his career as a painter. The story of the resurfaced early works by one of Korea's most well-known 20th century painters made headlines in Seoul and was covered by SBS television.
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