The Museum Designed by Spanish Architect Fernand Menis Blends into the Jeju Island Landscapes
On March 14, the foundation stone of the future Park Seo Bo Museum of Contemporary Art has been laid on Jeju Island in South Korea. The project is promoted by the Gizi Foundation, which manages the legacy of the artist Park Seo Bo, and will be carried out by the Spanish architect Fernando Menis.
Park Seo Bo (91 years), founder of the 'Dansaekhwa' movement of monochrome painting, is one of the essential figures of the Korean contemporary art scene. Dean of the School of Fine Arts at Seoul Hong-Ik University in 1973, Doctor Honoris Causa in 2000 from the same university, Park Seo Bo has been widely praised throughout his career for championing Korean art. He was also awarded the Art Society Asia Game Changer Award in 2018 and the Korea's Silver Crown Cultural Medal in 2011, among others. Seo Bo is best known for his 'Écriture' series of paintings, linked to notions of time, space and matter, concepts that underpin all the work of the Korean artist.
The future Park Seo Bo Museum of Contemporary Art on Jeju Island is dedicated to his work and collection, and has been designed by the Spanish architect Fernando Menis. His project is inspired by the introspective work of the Korean artist and by the volcanic nature of Jeju Island, which bears many similarities to the Canary Islands. A follower of the Zero Kilometer architecture, Menis bases his design on free geometry and the use of local materials to create a building that blends with the place, thus minimizing its impact on the environment, but it seeks, at the same time, to produce significant architecture in highly anthropized landscape, a result of Jeju's intense tourism industry.
Located in a terraced area, near a hotel and leisure complex owned by the same developer, the Park Seo-Bo Museum presents itself as a contained, albeit singular, volume of solid concrete, concrete volume, which breaks into two parts, as if it were a fissure between tectonic plates, to house the main access to the cultural complex from the upper level of the site. This entrance works as a transition space between the exterior (through a ramp and a small embankment for stands) and the covered interior of the cultural space.
The visitors are welcomed into a rather low, compressed interior – the lobby – before moving on to a more fluid space where they will see the offices and a Korean-influenced garden and will be able to contemplate the sky and the surrounding landscape. A linear concrete staircase, which organises the distribution of the museum, takes them into a kind of initiation journey in which natural light, its reflections and backlighting exude mystique in the atmosphere of the exhibition rooms and common areas.
Two large white exhibition rooms on the first underground floor were specially designed for the enjoyment of the artist's works and collection. One of them is a pure square, emulating a cube, while the other adapts to the shape of the concrete volume seen from the outside. Following the descent through the second linear section of the main staircase, the route leads to a large multipurpose space, complemented by service spaces.
It is in this space, at the end of the journey into the earth, where the two large chimneys that bring light and verticality are fully perceived. It is through them that the Spanish architect exercises his incomparable mastery to incorporate daylight and shadow into the building, as well as its visual play throughout the days and the different seasons of the year.
About PARK SEO-BO (1931, Yecheon, Corea)
Park Seo-Bo is widely considered one of the leading figures in contemporary Korean art. Credited as being the father of the ‘Dansaekhwa’ movement, Park was part of a generation that was deeply affected by the Korean War (1950–53) which divided the country into North and South. After experimenting with Western abstraction, particularly the style of ‘Art Informel’ with which he became familiar during his time in Paris in 1961, Park began to explore a more introspective methodology that had its origins in Taoist and Buddhist philosophy and also in the Korean tradition of calligraphy. Park is best known for his ‘Ecriture’ series of paintings. First begun in the late 1960s, the ‘Ecriture’ series embrace this spiritual approach and are inextricably linked to notions of time, space and material, concepts which underpin all of the artist’s work. In the early works, Park used repeated pencil lines incised into a still-wet monochromatic painted surface, and the later works expand upon this language through the introduction of hanji, a traditional Korean paper hand-made from mulberry bark, which is adhered to the canvas surface. This development, along with the introduction of colour, enabled an expansive transformation of his practice while continuing the quest for emptiness though reduction. Park Seo-Bo graduated from the painting department of Hong-Ik University in Seoul in 1954. He became Dean of the University in 1973 and received an Honorary Doctorate from there in 2000. He has been widely lauded throughout his career for championing Korean art and received the Art Society Asia Game Changer Awards in 2018 and Silver Crown Cultural Medal in Korea in 2011.
About FERNANDO MENIS (1951, Tenerife island, Spain)
With a professional career spanning more than 40 years, Menis's architectural production includes works of various scales and typologies, as well as long-term research projects. An expert in designing concert halls and auditoriums, he is internationally recognized and awarded for conceiving an innovative variable acoustics system for the CKK Jordanki Concert Hall (2015, Poland). Among the projects completed, alone and in co-authorship: the Church of the Holy Redeemer of Las Chumberas (2022), El Tanque Cultural Space Public Garden (2022), CKK "Jordanki" Concert and Conventions Hall, in Poland (2015) , Plaza Bürchen in Switzerland (2015), Insular Athletics Stadium (2007), Magma Arte & Congresos (2007), Floating pool in the Spree River of Berlin (2004) and the Presidency of the Canary Islands Government in Tenerife (2000). Among the ongoing projects, the following stand out: the Contemporary Art Museum Park Seo Bo in South Korea, the Adaptive Reuse of the Viera y Clavijo Cultural Park as the Rodin Museum Tenerife, the Masterplan in Boa Vista, the Pájara Conventions and Concert Hall in Fuerteventura, the Rehabilitation of the Cultural Center in La Guanche, the Rehabilitation of the Teobaldo Power Performative Arts Hall in La Orotava. Distinguished on 10 occasions with the Canary Islands Architecture Prize, Menis also won: the Prize for the Best Cultural Building in Poland 2015 from the National Council of Architects of Poland; the CEMEX Award for Universal Accessibility 2016; the 2016 Taipei Design Award to the Best Public Building Award; the Stone Award at the VIII International Stone Architecture Award 2005; and the Prize of the V Spanish Biennial of Architecture 1998, among others. Architect Doctor from the Polytechnic of Valencia, his works have been shown in several editions of the Venice Biennale, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, at the Aedes Berlin gallery and the GA gallery in Tokyo. His project Iglesia del Santísimo Redentor is part of the permanent collection of the MoMA Museum of Modern Art in New York.