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RHEE SEUNDJA (1918-2009)
RHEE SEUNDJA (1918-2009)

Une autre Terre (Another Earth)

Details
RHEE SEUNDJA (1918-2009)
Une autre Terre (Another Earth)
signed and dated 'SEUND JA RHEE 61' (lower right)
titled and numbered 'UNE AUTRE TERRE 6125F528' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
64.5 x 81 cm. (25 3/8 x 31 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1961
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist in the 1980s
Private collection, France

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Lot Essay

Rhee Seundja is one of the first Korean pioneers who successfully positioned herself as an abstract painter in the intensively competitive art world in Paris during the 1950s. Since then, Rhee was fully devoted to creating art throughout six decades and France remained her base for her life and art until her death in 2009 at the age of 91. Her magnificent oeuvre can be generally divided into five periods: transition from figurative to abstraction (1953-1958); Mother and Earth series (1958-1968); Geometric abstractions and abstract landscape (1969-1979); Road to the Antipodes series (1980-1994); and Cosmos series (1995-2009).

Rhee began her study in painting in 1953 under Henri Goetz at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiére, where other Asian masters of abstract art such as Zao Wouki and Chu Teh-Chun studied. During this period, Rhee absorbed diverse techniques of paintings and examined a wide range of European oil paintings, seeking her own colour palette and compositional forms and succeeded in finding her own style in a short amount of time. That Goetz appointed Rhee to be his teaching assistant only one year after she began to learn painting highlights her natural talent, a strong will, acute insight and sincerity towards art.

As 1957 Twilight of Gods No.2 (Lot 127), 1958 The Bridges of Spring (Lot 130), and A Midsummer Evening(Lot 128) featured here exemplify, the works from the end of 1950s began to show Rhee's early mature style of combining form and narrative content leading up to the beginning of the Mother and Earth Series. A simple composition with a few geometric shapes in the works illustrates her comment, "I employ geometrical marks to express and explore my subject, Mother and Earth. I choose triangle, square and circle as universal signs transcending time and borders." Contrary to their simple refined appearance, the paintings have gone through a painstakingly time consuming process. It results in exquisite texture as well as a careful examination of the material.

Employing and reinterpreting diverse motifs of Korean traditional pattern, the works in the 1960s feature her further experimentation and outstanding accomplishment in perfecting a harmony of combining form and narrative content in abstract painting. 1961 Another Earth (Lot 131) and 1963 The Moon of October 15th 1963 (Lot 129) are filled with a myriad of lines and points produced by repetitive brushstrokes. To Rhee the innumerable repetition of the small dots and short strokes of lines was in fact equivalent to the actual act of cultivating the land, nurturing the seeds to grow. More importantly, the staggering repetition of brushstrokes represented a connection to her three beloved sons from whom she had been separated due to marital discord since 1951. Each brushstroke expressed a yearning to tend to her children; each mark of the canvas embodied a longing to recreate maternal duties, the missed caresses, and the symbolic feeding of children thousands of miles away. The series is an extension of Rhee's motherly affection for her children and her longing and true love as a mother behind each brushstroke creates a deep resonance in the viewer.

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