Our museum researched the works of several prominent Korean artists of the early 1920s and the ways they were influenced by foreign styles. Japanese colonial rule of Korea lasted from 1910 to 1945, but Japan’s influences in art had been expanding since before this formal occupation.
In Korea, there was only one exhibit for artists to become famous/debut: Chosun Art Exhibit(조선미술관람회). This is where artists like Park Su Geun and Na Hye Sok debuted. However, because almost all judges were Japanese, many Korean artists were indirectly forced to draw what Japanese favored and wanted to see. The judges required “Local Colors” and the countryside of Korea in their art. Therefore, lots of arts in this historical time period showed similarity in their artworks.
Also, because there was only one place for people to become famous, not many had the opportunity to draw within Korea. Thus, many artists, including some of our researched artists, decided to study abroad. Artists were exposed and heavily influenced by Western art styles. Artists could also organize independent outlets for their art, teach, publish art on papers, among other ways to promote their work.
Many Koreans went through physical and mental adversity during the Japanese colonial period of Korea, but it was also a period of great social changes and modernization as well, which could be shown through the artworks.
Newsis. “Independence from Japan”. Donga Press. 2019. https://www.donga.com/news/Society/article/all/20190220/94203367/1 (accessed November 25, 2020)