Nam Kwan

1911 – 1990

Nam Kwan was born in 1911 in the region of Gyeongbuk to the East of Korean. In 1937, the artist left his comfortable life in South Korea and began his studies at the School of Fine Arts in Taiheiyo in Tokyo. From 1947 to 1949, he taught at the University of Sookmyung then at the University of Hongik in Korea.

Nam Kwan then stayed in Japan in 1952 and visited the Tokyo Biennial and the Salon de Mai where he discovered modern painters from the Nouvelle Ecole in Paris. He decided to leave for France.
In 1955 at the age of 44, he arrived in Paris. The artist joined the Grande Chaumière Academy and developed his tastes in lyric abstraction. He took part in the “L’Internationale de l’Art plastique Contemporain” organised by the Modern Art Museum in Paris in 1956, where his style evolved towards an informal abstraction.
From 1958, he regularly took part in the Salon de Mai. He was awarded First Prize at the Mention Biennial in 1966, which made him a worldwide name.

Nam Kwan was a success in creating a unique, refined and poetic signature style. The depths and shapes mutually echo one another in soft colours, often using different tones of blue, pink or soft beige. In some compositions, the palette is lively, the colours are pulverised, violent; with turquoise, yellos and magenta each invading the canvas in a cloudy composition, where the motifs blend intimately into the background.
Nam Kwan returned to Seoul in 1968 where he taught at university. Nevertheless he kept his studio in Paris and shared his time between France and South Korea. He passed away in Seoul in 1990.


– 1937-1944 “Japan Fine Arts Exhibition”, Tokyo National Museum, Japan
– 1955 Musée du Petit Palais , Paris, France
– 1958 à 1979 Salon de Mai, Paris, France
– 1965, 1966, 1967, 1980 Salon des Réalités Nouvelles , Paris, France
– 1965 Musée d’art Moderne de Paris, France
– 1966 Biennale de peinture de Menton, France
– 1967 Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, France
– 1967 Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, France
– 1967 Sao Paulo Biennial, Brazil
– 1968 National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan
– 1972 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA
– 1984 FIAC, Paris, France
– 2012 “Korean Abstract Painting: 10 Perspectives”, Seoul Museum of Art, South Korea (SEMA)
– 2019 “The Dream of Modernity: Planting a Flowering Tree”, Seoul Museum of Art, South Korea (SEMA)
– 2020 “Gana Art Collection: Korean Modern and Contemporary Arts” GANA Art Gallery, Seoul, South Korea


– The Grand-Duc Jean Museum of Modern Art, Luxembourg
– Turin Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Italy
– Polytechnic Museum, Lausanne, Switzerland
– Musée d’art Moderne de Paris, France
– Musée Cernuschi, Paris, France
– Seoul National Museum, South Korea
– GANA Art Gallery, Seoul, South Korea

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