In Suh Se-ok’s series of paintings titled People, begun in the late 1970s, abstracted human figures form a human chain, hand in hand, and are painted with a minimum of strokes rendered with precise and brief movements of the brush. Suh’s work reflects the tradition of 18th-century literati monochrome ink painters, who rejected the use of color because they felt using color in painting was a futile attempt at imitating nature.

Suh frequently addresses the subject of humanity by rendering either the outline of a human form or the Chinese character for human. The calligraphic and painterly come together as he applies black ink in vigorous and undulating brushstrokes that create a minimalistic yet powerful image.


  • Title: People
  • Creator: Suh Se Ok
  • Creator Lifespan: 1929
  • Creator Nationality: Korean
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date: 2003
  • Physical Dimensions: w139.7 x h83.8 cm (sheet)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: © Suh Se Ok
  • External Link: MFAH
  • Medium: Ink on mulberry paper
  • Credit Line: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, museum purchase funded by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund

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