Nam Kwan was born in Chongsong, North Kyungsang Province and graduated from Taiheiyo Fine Arts School in Tokyo in 1935. He studied and taught at the Kumaoka Academy in Tokyo from 1937 to 1944. He also studied at Grand Chaumière in Paris from 1955 to 1958.
Nam Kwan had one hundred-twenty one-person exhibitons in Korea, Japan, the United States, and Europe between 1948 and 1990. He had one-person exhibitions at the Tonghwa Gallery in Seoul from 1948-1950 and in 1954 at the Midopa Gallery in Seoul. Solo shows were also held at the Galerie Transposition in Paris in 1964, and at the Galerie Mensch in Hamburg in 1966. His work was exhibited at the "Contemporary Art Exhibition" in Milan in 1983, and in 1984 at the "FIAC 84" in Paris as well as in an Invitational exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris. He received first prize at the "Biennial Exhibition of Paintings" in Menton, France in 1966.
Nam Kwan won the Korean Cultural award in 1974 and the Korean Cultural prize in 1981. From 1968 to 1977 he taught at the Hong Ik University in Seoul. His paintings are in many museum and private collections.