Kim Byung-ki, one of Korea’s first abstract artists, is dead at 105
Kim Byung-ki, one of Korea’s first-generation abstract artists, died on Tuesday. He was 105.
Kim was the oldest Korean artist still active in the field. In 2019, he opened a solo exhibition titled “Here and Now” at the Gana Art Center in Jongno District, central Seoul, at the age of 103.
Last year, Kim showcased new artworks at the National Academy of Arts at the age of 105.
Kim was born in 1916 in Pyongyang during the Japanese colonial era. He defected from North Korea in 1948, and was known to be close with the late artist Lee Jung-seob (1916-56). He taught at Seoul National University and was the third chairman of the Korean Fine Arts Association in 1964.
Kim went abroad to Japan in 1934, where he learned about abstract art and surrealism. He returned to Korea in 1939 and founded the “1950s Art Association,” an alliance of Korean artists for the development and promotion of national art.
In 1965, Kim was the commissioner for the 8th São Paulo Art Biennial in Brazil. He moved to the U.S. until he was 70 years old before returning to Korea. In 2014, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art’s Gwacheon branch opened an exhibition on Kim, titled “Kim Byungki: The Distribution of the Sensible.”
He lived in Paris for a year when he was 80. At the age of 101, in 2017, he became an official member of the National Academy of Arts. Kim received the second-highest Eungwan (Silver Crown) Order of Cultural Merit from the Korean government last year.
Kim's funeral is scheduled to take place at the Asan Medical Center in southern Seoul on Friday morning. For more information, call 02-3010-2000.
BY SHIN MIN-HEE [email@example.com]