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Paradise

Paik Nam-soon Korean

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 233

Paradise skillfully integrates Korean and Western painting techniques. Paik’s artistic journey led her from training in oil painting at the Women’s School of Fine Arts in Tokyo to Paris, in 1928, where she became interested in Fauvism. While Koreans were colonial subjects with limited travel privileges compared to the Japanese, Paik defied the odds to become the first professional Korean woman artist to exhibit internationally. Paradise literally maps European representational techniques onto a Korean format: oil on canvas as an eight-panel folding screen. Elements such as the peaks, waterfall, and bridges recall ink landscapes, while the nudes and color palette draw from European art. The work was a wedding gift; in the customary right-to-left reading, the only male-female couple in the composition stands at the bucolic threshold, suggesting Paik’s auspicious wishes for the recipients.

Paradise, Paik Nam-soon (Korean, 1904–1994), Eight-panel folding screen; oil on canvas, Korea

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