The artist’s epic work brings the Jeju of 4.3 vividly to life
Kang Yo-bae created a series of works on Jeju 4·3 starting from the late 1980s. With the publication of the art book “Camellias Fall” (1992), Kang became the first artist to publicize the Jeju Uprising and Massacre nationwide. He presented some 50 drawings and oil paintings in his solo exhibition titled “Camellias Fall: Touring Exhibition in Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Jeju 4.3 Uprising” (Hakgojae Gallery, 1992).
As if documenting the historic events, he chronologically painted the period of the massacre, which began in 1947 when police fired on an event commemorating the March 1 Independence Movement. The period continued until Sept. 21, 1954, when the ban on entering Mt. Halla was lifted. Kang’s work covers nature and society in the intervening period as many innocent civilians are massacred against the backdrop of clashes between the armed guerillas and the counterinsurgency forces.
Just as novelist Hyun Ki-young revealed in “Sun-i Samch’on” (1978) the painful scars of Jeju 4·3, painter Kang Yo-bae recorded its agonizing scenes by portraying Jeju’s beautiful nature and the humanism that never yielded to the devastating tragedy.