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"Art and Business Completely Different, and Completely the Same," Says Kang Suk-Jean
Successful CEO Calls Himself Professional Painter
“Actually there is no difference between art and business” says Mr. Kang Suk-Jean. 30 years ago Mr. Suk-Jean walked into central park as a vice president of a big company and saw a painter painting the park. He got so inspired that he immediately walked to the store to get his own painting equipment. These days Mr. Kang is a professional artist and owns his own art gallery.

Mr. Kang was thinking about going to the college of art after high school but decided to do major in economics. At the age of 30 he was vice-president of a very big American company and chairman of GE.

“I asked the man in the park, how can I start painting? The man told me to follow him and we went to a store where they sell painting equipment. He showed me everything I needed to start, the next day I started and I have never stopped ever since” says Mr. Kang. When he came back to Korea he noticed that he needed help from others to develop further.

He found a good artist who took him to the country side. “He really helped me developing me as an artist and we still go out to country sides in the weekend to paint with a big group of artists,” Mr. Kang states. “It takes a lot of time painting one painting, sometimes I think my painting is done and one month later I see some things that I want to change or recolor. Before I have finished a painting I have at least visited the country side 20 times”

The biggest linking factor in all of his paintings is nature. “I have painted other things than landscapes, for example as an artist you start with painting the human body. Everybody knows how it looks like and that’s why you have to paint every detail,” states Mr. Kang. “The truth is that my paintings get recognized because I mostly paint landscapes. I don’t know why but I have always had a connection with it, when I see the landscape and I don’t feel connected than I will not paint it.”

Currently Suk-Jean has been joining and organizing a lot of exhibitions around the world. He has even been invited to give a solo exhibition in the National Art Center in Beijing China. “It is an honor for me to be able to do an exhibition in China; it will be the first time that China invites a Korean artist for a solo exhibition.”

“The Chinese National Art Center had some men looking at my paintings during one of my exhibitions. That time I didn’t know they were there and that they have been. They started a conversation about how they saw my painting as the Asian art from the earlier days. When they invited me for a conversation with them it seemed that we have the same meeting about painting and other philosophies. That is why I said yes to this exhibition in China, it gives me a very good feeling helping the Chinese art culture.” Mr. Kang says.

A couple of years ago Mr. Kang organized a Chinese-Korean exhibition which was a great success. The Chinese have a very long history of art. “The Chinese art was always about nature and landscapes. The communists destroyed all the natural philosophy, so today Chinese art is mostly western. I think that is why they are interested in my work; it makes them want to recover their old Chinese art,” Mr. Kang says.

Art critics have said “it is the expression of the nature’s mind”. “This is also how I feel it as well when I am painting. I want to express the view, make people see it the way I see it in my mind. It is not about taking a photo of a landscape but it is the decomposition.

Mr. Kang is a very successful business man and currently still working in a lot of different big companies. In the past he has been chairman at GE Korea, nowadays he is chairman at four different companies, professor at a school and a professional artist. A busy man you must think. “With painting I forget the rest of the world; I always paint after work and in the weekends. It really is my passion else I wouldn’t have been able to do this for such a long time.” Mr. Kang states.

Who Is Mr. Kang Suk-Jean?

Mr. Kang Suk-Jean is a rare businessman who has a strong domestic and international networks with a particular ability in arts. He calls himself a professional painter instead of businessman. The highly successful businessman also plays the harmonica.

Mr. Kang has recently finished his sixth solo art exhibition. He took part in the group exhibitions for over 100 times over the peiod of three decades.

He started his artistic career at age 30 in New York City. Back then he was working as the vice president of the foreign investment company. He hobnobbed with famous Korean artists there and learned how to paint from them.

With his largely landscape paintings Mr. Kang depicts the beauty of Korean rural areas. He also travels to such foreign countries as China, Czech Republic, and Hungary in search of the pastoral beauty.

Mr. Kang was born in Sangju, North Gyeongsan Province on May 25, 1939.

He graduated ChungAng University, and Yonsei University. He also graduated from Harvard Business School.

He was one of the youngest CEOs when be became president of GE Korea over 30 years ago.

He now serves president CEO Consulting Group.

He has his website Sukjean Kang Art Gallery:

"The Land I have Left Behind
— All That I Have Cherished on Earth"

I do draw,
I do draw with my heart,
I draw all that are beautiful on this land.

I do draw,
To leave my loved ones with my traces in this world,
To bring memories of all beauty on Earth as I bid farewell.

Our mountains, fields, and trees residing within,
Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter,
The scenes, the colors that changes with each season,
Young rice plants and their watery paddies,
Ridges and furrows of fields at the feet of mountains,
Our people living and working in this landscape,
Tunes of their sorrows and pleasures dipped with life,
All to be heard with cuckoos singing far off in the mountains,
The pleasant fragrance of their humble lives,
As our people smile hiding their grief.

I wish to draw all that are lovely,
To me, all that are of this world are beautiful without reason,
I look at all with my affection.

I gaze at all with my sincere heart.
And all of a sudden, I start to gather tears,

Someday when my due on this Earth is done,
And I am to return to the planet I came from,

I will leave with all my beautiful memories of this Earth,
All the loveliness that have lived with me,
All these in a book of my paintings.

At some late moment
Long in the future
In a far-away planet,
I will reminisce about the Earth I have left, all that I have cherished,

And for that moment, I do draw.






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