Chihwaseon Review

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Portrait of the artist Jang Seung-up, the 19th Century Korean Jackson Pollack


When he shared the director's prize at Cannes last year (with Paul Thomas Anderson), Im's latest was also known by the translated title, Drunk On Women And Poetry. It's an apt description of its subject - artist Jang Seung-up (a.k.a. "Oh-won") - who comes over like a 19th century Korean Jackson Pollock.

Perhaps he's not as self-destructive as the American painter, but he shows a similar temperament, combining a huge talent and arrogant self-belief with an addiction for wasteful earthly delights, as he develops his own revolutionary style. This film is also a lot livelier than Ed Harris' Pollock biopic, as it flicks briskly through the key stages of Oh-won's life, noting how he pushes against the boundaries of Korea's centuries-old painting traditions.

Choi's performance is hugely charismatic, capturing Oh-won's irreverence and embracing the film's central divide: the art of nature vs. the nature of art.