Politician-turned-artist Ro returns
By Chung Min-uck
After a 12-year hiatus, Ro Seung-woo, a former politician and professor, is finally back on the art scene with new paintings inspired by his life experiences.
The title of the exhibition is “Reflection on Eve.” During an interview with The Korea Times he made clear the meaning of “Eve” by explaining his award-winning painting at the 2011 National Modern Art Exhibition, “Eve in the Beginning.”
“Eve is the mother of the average man and we are her descendants. We have to revive humanism,” said Ro.
“The painting shows how humans weren’t shy about being naked in the beginning. But after committing sin, humans became wicked. We have to stop committing sins and become pure like the times back then.”
Looking back at his life, it is understandable why his paintings deliver messages of reviving humanism.
After studying politics and political philosophy in the United States, he came back to Korea and taught Marxist theory at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
He said that Marxism failed to succeed in the area of economics due to its nonrecognition of human desire, but some ideas of the school of thought, such as egalitarianism, should be studied further. He admitted that the humanistic side of the theory is indirectly reflected in his pieces.
Then in the 1990s he debuted as a politician. He confessed that he experienced horrible power games within the inner group of the political party.
“I saw the dark side of man when I was a politician. I thought some changes were needed,” Ro said.
Last but not least, after leaving the political scene, he went on to study studio art at Santa Clara University, Calif., and several other institutions in the U.S. He learned how to paint professionally, and says his works are a combination of impressionism, symbolism and minimalism.
“Impressionism is to paint how you saw and felt. Symbolism is transmitting messages to the audience in an abstract way. Minimalism is creating pictures with simple lines. On top of these, I tried to add a layer of humanism.”
His latest paintings demonstrate a mix of these four factors.
“Mother 2” is a reflection of his memories as a young boy. He tried to express the image of his mother back in the old days where there weren’t any washing machines and laundry was done by hand.
“Self-portrait,” another award-winning piece, is an image of himself working on a painting. “Life is a struggle. I know it. But I can’t stop moving forward. This is how life is. I am saying to myself, do I have to live like this? But look at me. I am still doing something really difficult — painting,” said Ro.
The exhibition will be held through June 14 at Kyung-in Gallery, Jongno-gu, Seoul.
For more information, visit www.kyunginart.co.kr/intro.html or call (02) 733-4448.