Sam Park 1949-

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Sung Sam Park (known as Sam Park) is inspired by the world around him and captures the ideal landscapes he experiences during his travels. The talented artist gained recognition at an early age, and despite admonishment from his father, he followed his passions and earned numerous awards and recognition.

Known for his unique New Impressionism style, Park transforms real-world scenes into beautiful landscapes with vivid light and awe-inspiring color combinations. The artist’s tenacity and dedication to his craft led to holding more than 100 one-man exhibitions around the world.

Personal History

Park was born in 1949 on a Korean island in the Yellow Sea and began painting at the age of 13. In the 1960s, while still in junior high school, a teacher recognized his skill and urged him to enroll in an art class after observing one of Park’s watercolor paintings. Despite his interest in sports, Park signed up for the class, going on to win many awards and competitions.

Park continued to gain recognition for his artistic talents, but his father was determined to have his only son pursue a career in business. The more renown Park gained for his art, the more uncompromising his father became. Park eventually left his home in Seoul to live with a friend in a nearby farming village. Moving to the countryside proved to be one of the most significant events in Park’s life. Instead of the bustling city, Park was surrounded by nature and people who made their living from the land. He came to understand nature as a source of comfort and renewal, which would shape his direction as an artist.

Park attracted the attention of prominent artists and heads of state. Byen Si-Jin, the former university president of Jo-Joo Island, was his private art teacher and mentor. The former president of South Korea, Yun Posun, personally awarded Park first place in many national competitions held by the Mok-Woo Art Society. Park is among the youngest artists ever to participate in these competitions.

Once Park finished high school, he spent six months in the army before enrolling in the Seorabeol Art College (also known as Chung-Ang University). His high school art teacher, Mr. Byum, also taught at the college. Byum had a profound influence on Park, encouraging him to travel to improve his technique.

After graduating in 1973, Park initially struggled to make a living and taught at local schools. He decided to take his teacher’s advice and traveled to France in 1982, where Park studied painting in Paris. On Sundays, he visited the Louvre and spent the entire day studying the works of the masters.

Park began to sell his artwork on the streets and met several art dealers who invited him to exhibit his art in many Mediterranean countries, including Spain, Morocco, and Greece. In between exhibitions, he traveled to France and Spain to draw inspiration from each country’s picturesque scenery. During an exhibition in Athens, Park met a young Korean woman named Jennifer, who would become his wife in 1987. Together, they had a son, Se-June. Jennifer’s influence on Park’s style became evident, inspiring an emphasis on beauty.

Park briefly returned to Korea in 1984 to participate in an art competition held by the Olympics. The judges recognized Park’s talents and awarded him first place. Following the competition, Park returned to Europe, where he lived with his wife and son in France, Greece, and Cyprus. When they moved to Provence, France, Park began working with other young artists and developed a style called New Impressionism.

The Parks spent eight years in Provence before deciding to move to the United States in 1994, settling near San Diego, California. In March 1996 he exhibited at the New York Artexpo, which exposed him to esteemed art publishers and galleries. Soon his works were exhibited throughout the United States and Canada.

“America is a country of opportunity,” Park says. “In Europe an artist’s background is more important than his work. But in America, an artist recognized for the quality of the work he produces.”

Park and his family reside in Southern California, where Park continues to draw inspiration from the coastline, his family, and his garden.

Style and Influence

Park’s artistic style reflects that of the French Impressionists with its inviting and sunny compositions. However, Park’s style departs from traditional Impressionism by using precise color combinations and configurations that are detailed and realistic.

While in Provence, Park defined his creative voice by developing New Impressionism. He paints exclusively using a palette knife, with the exception of a small brush for details, and using pure colors to give his work immediacy and vibrancy. Park has honed his skills to the point where he can create works in fine detail, a characteristic not typically seen with a palette knife.

Park’s paintings are based on real places, but he takes a great deal of artistic license when presenting his ideal locations. If a composition requires trees where there aren’t any, or by combining architecture from two different locations, Park composes scenic landscapes just waiting to be explored.

Accomplishments

  • While living on Cyprus, Park was commissioned by the President of Cyprus to paint the First Lady’s portrait. A total of six paintings by Park belong to the collection in the Presidential Palace.
  • A painting of Michael Dukakis’ birthplace created by Park while in Greece was purchased by the former Governor of Massachusetts.
  • Park returned to Korea in 1984 to participate in an Olympic-sponsored art competition for the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. With more than 2,000 entrants in the competition, Park won and received a Gold Medal.
  • Following the Olympics competition, Park’s painting was purchased by the Hyundai Corporation for permanent display at their corporate headquarters.
  • In 1986, Park became a member of the jury of Heart and Mind Artists Association of Korea, the organization that assesses all artwork presented for juried competitions in that nation.
  • Park’s works have been written about in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including the European Travel Press and Euroko, a Korean magazine in Europe.

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