Donghoon Lee (1903-1984)
Oil paintings were introduced to Korea in early 1890’s primarily by those artists who studied paintings abroad mostly in Japan, which was heavily influenced by French Impressionism. They led the main stream of oil paintings in Korea, and perhaps unintentionally limited the native development of oil painting techniques and indigenous creativities. Donghoon Lee (1903-1984) was a rare exception. His simplicity to the point of the naiveté is far from being showy or using a superb technique. His paintings are consistently quiet, deep, and contemplative, capturing everyday lives around him on canvases in honesty and composure. His primary genre is landscape. Pastoral scenes with cows, hen houses, sheeps are reflected in his paintings. When weathers prevent him from outdoor sketches, he is devoted to still-life paintings with objects around him.
His paintings are mostly from his self-study, but began to be recognized in early ages even by jurors heavily influenced by contemporaneous Japanese paintings. Korea gained independence from Japan in 1945 and establish the first democratically elected government in 1948. In the first National Exhibition in 1949, he won the Grand Prize in the western painting division.