Scenery with Seopseom Island in the Distance by Lee Jung-seob, 1951 © Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery

Unseen Works by Lee Jung-Seob Revealed
‘Lee Kun-hee Collection, Lee Jung-seob Special Exhibition’ is taking place at Jeju’s Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery.
If a movie dealing with Lee Jung-seob as the subject matter were to be made, it would include Jeju’s Seogwipo as the main filming location. The southern Jeju city of Seogwipo is known to be a place where the legendary painter spent his short but sweet honeymoon period with his wife Lee Nam-deok. Having fled from Wonsan during the January-Fourth Retreat after the Korean War broke out, Lee and his family stayed in Seogwipo from January 1951 to the end of that year. Despite the short period on the island, he was able to produce many works including ‘Scenery with Seopseom Island in the Distance.’ Many of his frequently-used indigenous motifs, such as ‘island,’ ‘crab,’ ‘fish,’ and ‘tangerine,’ have deep connections to this period.
이중섭, 해변의 가족, 1953~1955 © 이중섭미술관

A Family on the Beach, by Lee Jung-seob, 1953~1955 © Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery

Seogwipo, which occupies a very important phase in the artist’s 40-year-long life riddled with severe poverty and solitude, has naturally seen the rise of landmarks themed on Lee Jung-seob. The small room(4.6㎡) where Lee and his four-member family had stayed has been restored as ‘Lee Jung-seob Residence’ while the nearby area in Jeongbang-dong, Seogwipo has been designated as ‘Lee Jung-seob Street.’ The Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery opened there featuring Lee’s artworks, his old palettes, and the couple’s correspondences donated by his wife. If you are a fan of his work, chances are that you have already been to Seogwipo tracing the footsteps of his life. So until very recently, the island city had nothing new to offer regarding the genius painter. That is not the story any more.
이중섭, 물고기와 노는 아이들, 1950년대 © 이중섭미술관

Boys Playing with Fish by Lee Jung-seob, 1950s © Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery

Return to Seogwipo After 70 Years
Earlier this year in April, a piece of news surprised art lovers. It was the news that the late Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee’s coveted art collection would be given back to society. The donation revealed a number of masterpieces that had not been made public. Lee Jung-seob’s paintings were part of it, and 12 of his oil paintings offering a glimpse of his Jeju era were given to the Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery. The once-hidden works have been on display at the Seogwipo gallery since September. The exhibition featuring 12 donated pieces is titled < Return to Seogwipo After 70 Years >.
이중섭미술관 © 이중섭미술관

Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery © Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery

기증 작품 전시실 전경 © 이중섭미술관

View of the exhibition hall for donated works © Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery

미디어 영상관 © 이중섭미술관

Media hall © Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery

The title signifies that the painting was created in 1951 when Lee was living in Seogwipo and that they are returning to the birthplace in 2021, which is 70 years later. The collection on the first-floor permanent exhibition room at the gallery includes a metal foil drawing of children and a crab, ‘Boys Playing with Fish’ reminiscing a time on the Seogwipo beach, and ‘Two Children with Fish (1954)’ which was his gift to his sons. A must-see painting is ‘Scenery with Seopseom Island in the Distance.’ He lived in a house facing the ocean during his stay in Seogwipo. The view from his house would have placed Seopseom to the left, Munseom in the center, and Saeseom to the right. The painting is a direct reflection of what he saw.
이중섭, 게와 아이들, 1952~1953, 은지화 © 이중섭미술관

Crab and Children, by Lee Jung-seob, 1952~1953, on silver paper © Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery

이중섭, 물고기와 두 어린이, 1954 © 이중섭미술관

Fish and Two Boys, by Lee Jung-seob, 1954 © Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery

Combined with the latest donation, the Lee jung-seob Art Gallery now owns a total of 299 items including 60 original artworks by Lee. It is a space fully devoted to supporting studies on Lee’s life and art, as well as offering a place where his fans can share their passion. If you are new to the artist’s world, you can learn more about him in the second-floor special exhibition room. The special exhibition chronicles his life and art. Featuring the works that have already been known, the exhibition will give you a rare, amazing experience of seeing many of them in person at once. Take a walk around Seogwipo while the impression from the art gallery is still fresh in your mind.

Lee Kun-hee Collection, Lee Jung-seob Special Exhibition < Return to Seogwipo After 70 Years >
27-3 Ijungseom-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju Island
Duration Until March 6, 2022
Hours 09:30-17:20, Closed on Mondays, Advance booking on homepage required
Inquiry +82-64-760-3567
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Where to Stay in Jeju: LOTTE HOTEL JEJU
LOTTE HOTEL JEJU is a resort hotel equipped with 500 rooms and suites. Inspired by ‘Palace of the Lost City’ resort in South Africa, the hotel’s architectural design creates an exotic atmosphere as it blends into the pristine natural environment of Jeju Island. There are four restaurants and a lounge, as well as various high-end facilities including a year-round outdoor spa pool, offering the perfect getaway for visitors who want to enjoy Jeju and relax.
Address 35 Jungmungwangwang-ro 72beon-gil, Seogwipo-si, Jeju Island
Inquiry +82-64-731-1000
November 2021 Editor:Kim Hyewon
Cooperation: Lee Jung-seob Art Gallery

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