South Korea’s Gwangju Biennale to Establish $100,000 Prize Named After Park Seo-Bo

The Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, one of the most important biennials in Asia, is set to grow even larger in influence with a new $100,000 art prize named after artist Park Seo-Bo, who is associated with the country’s Dansaekhwa movement of the 1970s.

Titled the Gwangju Biennale Park Seo-Bo Art Prize, the award is receiving backing from Park’s Seoul-based GIZI Foundation, which has committed $1 million in funding. The first award is set to be given out at the 2023 edition, which is being organized by Tate Modern senior curator Sook-Kyung Lee. The prize is set to be given out at each edition through 2042.

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“As an elder who has devoted an entire life to painting and also as a fellow member of the arts community, I wanted to support artists participating in the Gwangju Biennale,” Park said in a statement. “I hope that despite the difficulties that lie ahead, they continue, with a sense of duty as an artist, to be a positive influence on society and improve it.”

Park, who recently turned 90, is considered a leader of Dansaekhwa, whose purveyors enlisted traditional Korean materials to make pared-down abstractions that sometimes took the form of monochromes. His foundation is set to help bankroll the award with the entity that runs the Gwangju Biennale.

The prize is not the first one that that the biennial has awarded—the first, the Noon Award, was given out between 2010 and 2016, and is now defunct. The Noon Award only came with $10,000, however, so this new prize suggests an award of greater magnitude for a biennial that now has a more cemented place within the international art world, on par with the Whitney Biennial and the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. biennial, both of which also come with $100,000.

Park Yang-woo, president of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, said in a statement that he hopes the award will “revitalize the whole art community” of South Korea.


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