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    Sale 12515

    Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art (Evening Sale)

    28 May 2016, Convention Hall

  • Lot 21

    RHEE SEUNDJA (Korean, 1918 - 2009)

    L'envol du Printemps (Flight of Spring)

    Price Realised  


    RHEE SEUNDJA (Korean, 1918 - 2009)
    L'envol du Printemps (Flight of Spring)
    signed 'SEUND JA RHEE 63' (lower left); signed, titled, numbered and inscribed '6360F726 PARIS SEUND JA RHEE ''L'envol du Printemps" (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas
    130 x 97 cm. (51 1/8 x 38 ¼ in.)
    Painted in 1963

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    Three major retrospective exhibitions of Rhee Seundja were held at the National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art in Seoul, the first in 1970, the second in 1978, and the third in 1988. Lee Kyung-Sung, one of the most highly recognized art critics and a director of the museum at that time of the third exhibition wrote, “Rhee’s works which were painted thousands miles away from her motherland embrace the savours and images of Korea in every aspect...The beauty of nature is the source of her art. She expressed the order of cosmos and aesthetic phenomenon of nature with her abundant colour palette and refined techniques…Rhee continued to develop her style in the 1960s, fulfilling her canvases with Asian formative space composed by myriads of layers of points and lines. Rhee was able to produce eternal beauty with her marvelous composition of colours and forms, referring herself to nature.” The Flight of Spring (Lot 21), featured here exemplies her outstanding artistry as well as her profound style which achieves a fine balance of both content and form apparent from her work during the 1960s.
    Rhee went to Paris in 1951 and began her study in painting in 1953 under Henri Goetz at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, where other Asian masters of abstract art such as Zao Wouki and Chu Teh-Chun studied. During this period, Rhee was seeking her own unique colour palette and compositional forms and succeeded in finding her own style in a short amount of time. It is very important to note, yet still overlooked in the history of Korean modern art that Rhee was the first Korean artist who achieved abstraction in art, and successfully positioned herself as an abstract painter in the intensively competitive art world in Paris during the 1950s. Most of the first generation of important pioneers of Korean abstract art came to Paris later than Rhee. They came to gain direct exposure to Western art after studying oil painting in Japan and later established their artistic careers in Korea first before exploring Paris. Nam Kwan and Kim Heung-Soo arrived in 1955, Kim Whan-Ki in 1956, and Lee Ung-No in 1959. It is not very difficult to imagine that these Korean artists went to see Rhee’s painting in the exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris in 1956 and were surprised by the quality of the painting by an artist they never heard of in Korea. Rhee’s painting was again featured in the exhibition, Nouveau Realisme at the museum in 1961. At this time Rhee also had many solo exhibitions at very noted galleries such as Lara Vincy and Charpantier among many others in France since 1956. The master work featured here, a painting of historical importance in the Korean abstract art movement, will provide a unique opportunity for international collectors to appreciate Rhee’s fascinating painting.


    Private Collection, Asia

    Pre-Lot Text



    Galerie De La Lumiere, Seund Ja Rhee – MCMLXV? 1967, Paris, France, 1967 (illustrated, p. 22)


    Paris, France, Galerie Lumière, Rhee Seundja Solo Exhibition, 12 April – 12 May 1967
    Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, Château-Musée de Cagnes-sur-Mer, Rhee Seundja, 10 April – 13 June 1976
    Vallauris, France, Château-Musée de Vallauris, Rhee Seundja: Chemin au Pays du Matin Calme, 5 April – 23 June 2003
    Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Christie's HK, Forming Nature: Dansaekhwa Korean Abstract Art, 6 November – 4 December 2015